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The Author on His 75th Birthday, July 8, igio. 
(Bom the Day the Liberty Bell Was Cracked.) 



National Soldiers' 

South Branch N. H. D. V. S. 


As Seen and Described by One of Its Members 



South Branch N.H.D.V.S. 

Copyright, 1910 
By E. L. COBB 


>"K0 MY COMRADES who left home 

^^^ and loved ones, in the darkest 

hour of our Nation s history, to 

save it from dissolution, and preserve its 

motto, "E Pluribus Unum, this hook is 

fraternally dedicated. 

With the hope that they may he 

cheered with the thought, after perusing 

these pages, that "The Gates stand wide 

open" to welcome them in their old age, 

and find a resting place while waiting the 

summons of our Supreme Commander to 

answer the new roll-call, and he mustered 

for their reward. 


National Home. D.V.S. 

Southern Branch, Va. 

November. 1905 

National Soldiers' Home, Virginia, 
July 1, 1910. 

Mr. E. L. Cobb, 

National Soldiers' Home, Virginia. 

Dear Sir: 

I have read the manuscript of 
your book, "Optic Views and Impres- 
sions", and consider it a very credit- 
able production, and the only one of 
this character that I have seen. It 
represents our Home life and should be 
of decided interest to all who regard 
the welfare of the Home and its mem- 
bers. It is quite full and correctly 
represents the conditions. 


/] /? /l^-^ 



The writer was born the day the Liberty Bell 
was cracked and therefore is in his seventy-first 
year. He entered the Army on the first call for 
troops, and was mustered into the service May 
27, 1 861. After service in the Army of the 
Potomac, Army of the Cumberland, ijth Corps, 
and Quartermaster-General's Office at Washing- 
ton, D. C, in various capacities, resigned July 
30, 1865. After an active business life, embrac- 
ing both successes and misfortunes, he was 
thrown out of employment in 1895, by one of the 
great Trusts, as being too old, and from that time 
to the day of entering the Home was confronted 
with the same excuse in all applications for em- 
ployment, although ripe in business experience 
and qualifications, and able to fill almost any 
clerical position. 



To determine what to do under the circum- 
stances was a serious and vexatious question. 
The thought of going to a Soldiers' Home would 
come up, but the statements made by some who 
had been members of both National and State 
Homes were far from pleasing, and would bring 
up visions of an Almshouse on an extensive 
scale, carried on under severe and strict discipline 
for their inmates. (The word inmate is not used 
in the National Homes.) We are not inmates, 
but members, showing that we are entitled by 
right of claim to all the U. S. Government can do 
for us in our old age, as a slight recompense in 
part for what we accomplished in our youth in 
saving our Country from dissolution and ruin. 
We are therefore not mendicants or paupers, but 
OLD SOLDIERS and SAILORS, who sacri- 
ficed our health and the opportunities, had we 
stayed at home, of accumulating wealth. 

After struggling along for years the realization 
that my ability to earn a living was growing less, 
fully confirming the late ruling of the Pension 
Bureau, viz., that a soldier at 70 years of age was 





wholly disabled, determined me to enter the Home. 
Wife and children looked upon such a step as a 
great mistake, which reflected upon them and 
their social standing. There was a disposition 
on the part of the writer not to boast about it, 
knowing however that if not satisfied, all that one 
had to do was to ask for a discharge. 

Having reached such a decision, the 2"]th day 
of August, 1904 [after my application had been 
approved), found me at the Main Entrance. May 
the surprise be as agreeable, when mustered 
out of this life, and standing before the Supreme 
Commander, to hear the glad words, " Welcome, 
good and faithful Soldier of the Cross." 

The welcome received from the Governor, 
Colonel William Thompson, and the officers of 
his Staff, and what my eyes have seen of this 
beautiful Home and its surroundings, prompt 
me to write this little book of information, in 
order to remove the false impressions which seem 
to prevail everywhere regarding "Soldiers' 
Homes," both National and State, that have been 
so liberally provided and so generously fitted up 


for us in which to pass our Jays in our declining 
years. I therefore give it the title of "Optic 
Views and Impressions, as Seen and Described 
by a Member of the National Soldiers' Home, 
D. V. S., Virginia. " 

September, 1905. 


Chapter Pago 

I. History of the National Home 17 

II. Topography 25 

III. Rules and Regulations for Admission. 28 

IV. Rules Governing the Discipline 30 

V. Entrance to the Home 33 

VI. Executive and Administrative Depart- 
ment 38 

VII. Dining Room and Kitchen 45 

VIII. Barracks and Quarters 51 

IX. Quartermaster's Department 56 

X. Commissary Department 59 

XI. Treasury Department 62 

XII. Power House 64 

XIII. Laundry 66 

XIV. Mechanical Departments 68 

XV. Printing Office 72 

XVI. Fire Department 73 

XVII. Beer Hall and Post Exchange 76 

XVIII. Ways and Means 80 

XIX. The Band 84 

XX. Amusements 87 


Chapter Pa 8 e 

XXI. Store, Restaurant and News Stand . . 97 

XXII. The Chapel 99 

XXIII. The Hospital 102 

XXIV. The Home Hotel 113 

XXV. Cemeteries 115 

XXVI. Funerals 120 

XXVII. Attractive Points for the Tourist 125 

XXVIII. Retrospect 134 

Appendix 147 


The Author frontispiece 


The Boys of 1861 6 

The Vets of 1910 7 

Colonel William Thompson 14 

General William J. Sewell 19 

The Main Building 21 

Captain P. T. Woodfin 23 

Bird's Eye View of the Home 25 

Lieutenant Franklin Murphy 26 

The Author 28 

Colonel Thomas T. Knox 30 

Phoebus Gate 33 

The Campus 35 

The Governor and Staff 39 

The Police Station 4° 

The Governor's Residence 42 

Main Dining Hall 4° 

The New Dining Hall 48 

Waiting for Dinner 49 



Interior of Bakery 50 

Company C Barracks 55 

Quartermaster and Commissary Building 56 

Social Room, Company C 58 

Company L Barracks 63 

McClellan Avenue 63 

The New Power House 64 

Machine Shop 69 

Electric Generators in the Power House 71 

W. C. Idail 74 

The Esplanade, Fronting Bay 76 

Beer Hall 7*> 

View Near the Hospital 81 

A Sunday Afternoon Concert 85 

Card and Checker Room 87 

Ward Memorial Theatre 88 

Interior of the Theatre 89 

Billiard Hall 9° 

Library 9 2 

View of Hampton Roads 96 

Store, News-stand and Restaurant 97 

Tht New Chapel 99 

Catholic Wing of Chapel 101 

Colonel William Thompson 
Governor January II, 1901, to December 31, 1905 



Front View of Hospital 103 

Ward Three, Hospital 104 

Tuberculosis Ward 105 

Rear View of Hosphal 106 

Invalid Dining Hall 108 

Conservatory no 

Garden and Nursery 112 

The Hotel 113 

Gateway of the Cemetery 115 

Confederate Graves 117 

A Funeral 119 

Last Salute 119 

Soldiers' Monument 122 

Protestant Wing of the Chapel 124 

The Chapel 126 

Old Hulks Driven Ashore 128 

Wrecks on the Virginia Coast 128 

Wreckage on the Shore 131 

Stranded on the Beach 131 

Kitchen for Invalid Dining Hall 138 

Woodfin Memorial 142 

Memorial Day 142 


History of the National Home for Dis- 
abled Volunteer Soldiers. 

The National Home for Disabled Volunteer 
Soldiers was created by Act of Congress ap- 
proved March 3, 1865. The original designa- 
tion was "The National Asylum"; but the 
word "Home" was substituted for "Asylum" 
by the Act of January 23, 1873. 

The organic law provided a Board of Mana- 
gers of one hundred of the most prominent men 
of the country, — the President, Secretary of 
War, the Secretary of the Navy, Chief Justice, 
Lieutenant-General, Major-Generals, Admiral, 
Rear Admira'ls, Senators, Congressmen, and 
the leading men of every profession. 

This body, however, failed to take action 
of any kind, and by the Act of March 21, 1867, 
Congress appointed a Board of twelve Mana- 
gers, to consist of the President, the Secretary 
2 (17) 


of War, and the Chief Justice ex-officio, and 
nine members, to serve two, four, and six years 
respectively, from States which furnished or- 
ganized Union troops during the Civil War. 

The Managers, thus first appointed, prompt- 
ly met and organized in June, 1866, to take 
up their work. They elected Major-General 
Benjamin F. Butler as their President, to- 
gether with two Vice-Presidents and a Secre- 

The Board determined to establish three 
branches of the Home: one in the New Eng- 
land States, one in the Middle States, and 
the other in the West. 

After much labor of committees in traveling 
from place to place to examine sites, and in con- 
sidering the claims of rival localities, it was 
determined to locate the Eastern Branch at 
Togus, Maine; the Northwestern Branch at 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Great Central 
Branch at Dayton, Ohio. 

These three branches were constructed and 
occupied within two years, and at once became 

General William J. Sewell 

Late President of the Board of Managers and 

Local Manager. Died December 27, 1901. 


so overcrowded that it was found necessary to 
have a fourth branch, particularly for the very 
large number of old soldiers suffering from 
pulmonary troubles who required a milder 
climate than that of either of the then existing 

Thus, in the year 1870, the Committee of the 
Board selected for the purpose of finding a 
proper location in the South, recommended 
that the property known as the Chesapeake 
Female Seminary, situated on the north bank 
of Hampton Roads, and between Old Point 
Comfort and the ancient town of Hampton, be 
purchased and used as the Southern Branch 
National Home for Disabled Volunteer Sol- 

The organic law of the National Home 
specified that volunteer soldiers and sailors 
of the Army and Navy, disabled while in line 
of duty, should be eligible for membership, and 
that the officers of the Home should be chosen 
from among the volunteer officers of the Union 
forces in the War of the Rebellion. Both of 


these provisions having been observed by the 
Board of Managers, the door was opened by 
subsequent acts of legislation, to admit any 
soldier or sailor who had served as a volunteer 
in any war and who had become disabled by 
bad health, accident, or age. Also to permit 
the appointment as an officer of any one who 
would be eligible for admission if disabled, if 
practicable. A still later Act permits the ap- 
pointment of surgeons or other medical officers 
without requiring preceding military service. 

The organic Act also provided that the fund 
which had accumulated in the Treasury from 
the fines of insubordinate soldiers, the for- 
feitures in case of desertions and the unclaimed 
money of deceased soldiers and officers 
(amounting at the close of the Civil War to six 
millions of dollars), should be devoted to the 
support of the National Home. In the year 
1875, Congress repealed this provision, and 
took up the support of the Home by direct 
annual appropriation, as a fixed charge in the 
Sundry Civil Bill. 



The officers of the Southern Branch are 
the Governor, Treasurer, Surgeon, Quarter- 
master, Commissary of Subsistence, and Chap- 
lain. The Chesapeake Female Seminary was 
organized under the auspices of the Baptist 
denomination, and the Seminary building, 
dedicated in the year 1854, is now known as 
"The Main Building of the Southern Branch." 

The outbreak of the Civil War caused the 
students to desert its halls, and upon the retire- 
ment of the Confederate troops it was seized 
by the Union forces and used as a hospital 
to which the wounded Union and Confederate 
officers were brought from the battlefields 
of Virginia and North Carolina, and cared 
for side by side. From the association of 
these officers in this now historic building 
sprang some of the most romantic and beautiful 
friendships between enemies of the battle- 
field; some of which friendships have strength- 
ened and lightened the lives of heroic men of 
the North and the South, until the one or the 
other listened to the bugle call of "Taps" 


sounded over the gray hairs of his friend. 
The most notable instance known to the writer 
is the strong attachment existing between 
Colonel William Lamb, the defender of Fort 
Fisher, and General N. M. Curtis, who com- 
manded the storming column which carried 
the works by heroic assault. The two com- 
manders met on the parapets of the fort in des- 
perate personal encounter; each desperately 
wounded the other, and both were brought 
to the "McClellan Hospital," as the main 
building was then called, where they were 
snatched from the jaws of death by tender care, 
and where they learned to know and love each 
other. This love and friendship has grown 
stronger with years and is most profound. 

Colonel Lamb is a resident of Norfolk, and 
General Curtis is Assistant Inspector-General 
of the National Home, and while inspecting 
the Southern Branch never fails to point out 
the spot where he rested in his cot. Reverend 
Charles A. Raymond, who had been Principal 
of the Seminary, was continued in charge for 

Late Captain P. T. Woodfin 
Governor, March 31, 1874, to August 21, 1901. 


the first year after the purchase of the property 
by the Board of Managers. General Edward 
W. Hincks, of Massachusetts, was appointed as 
the first regular Governor in 1871, and he, 
having been transferred to the command of 
the Northwestern Branch at Milwaukee, 
Wisconsin, was succeeded on January 16, 
1873, by Colonel Philip T. Woodfin, who con- 
tinued in that capacity until his death on 
August 24, 1 90 1. 

Upon the death of Colonel Woodfin, Colonel 
William Thompson, who for nineteen years 
had performed the duties of Treasurer so 
successfully and so thoroughly and acceptably 
to the Board of Managers, was promoted to 
fill the responsible position; a just and fitting 
reward and recognition for his long, able, and 
faithful services. At the present writing, 
Governor Thompson, having, after a service 
of twenty-eight years, tendered his resigna- 
tion at the request of the Board of Mana- 
gers, is awaiting the arrival of his suc- 
cessor, Colonel Thomas T. Knox, U. S. A., 


retired, who has been designated to succeed 

This feeble historical sketch has been pre- 
pared during the administration of Colonel 
Thompson, and the author would consider 
himself derelict in his duty to this Branch, 
and recreant to a trust almost held sacred by 
him, were he not to give expression to his feel- 
ings with regards to the able, kind and cour- 
teous administration of the institution, and 
of the uniform home-like treatment of himself 
and all others coming under his observation. 



The grounds are bounded by a water-front 
which reaches along the shore of Hampton Bay 
for about half a mile, protected by a cement 
breakwater running its full length from Mill 
Creek to Jones' Creek, which divides it from 
the Hampton Industrial School. The water 
on three sides and a high slat fence in the rear 
prevent any one from going in or coming out 
without authority from the Governor. The 
Home may be entered by either of the three 
gates, or at the wharf, where the supplies for the 
Home are delivered by steamers or sailing ves- 
sels. There are about 26 acres owned by the 
Government within the enclosure. There are 
43 acres leased from the Industrial School for 
Colored and Indians which adjoins the ground 
on the opposite side of Jones' Creek, upon which 
are erected all the officers' quarters (except the 


Governor's) and the hospital buildings and 
annexes, four of the company barracks, stables, 
etc., also the chapel and nurses' quarters. 
Walks and drives have been laid out by expert 
landscape gardeners, and besides the old pic- 
turesque trees that stood here years before it 
was used for its present purpose, thousands of 
others have been planted along the walks and 
driveways, which are covered with either oyster 
shells or ground stone, replenished each year 
and made smooth and solid with heavy rollers. 

A large campus lies between the main build- 
ing and the water-front, upon which is the flag- 
staff, where Old Glory constantly waves, sup- 
ported on either side by two brass cannon used 
in the Civil War. 

A new and beautiful band-stand has just 
been completed; its architecture is a perfect 
representation of that of ancient Greece. The 
Home Band furnishes the finest classic music 
daily, except Mondays and Saturdays, and on 
days when their services are required for funerals, 
which is frequently every day in the week except 

Ex-Governor, Lieutenant Franklin Murphy 
Board of Managers, 
Local Manager of Southern Branch. 


Sundays. No funerals take place on that day, 
the dead being kept in the Morgue until the 
following Monday. 

Placed along the walks are many large vases 
filled with flowers and ferns in summer; also 
three life size statues, representing Peace, 
Justice, and War, stand on the Campus facing 
Hampton Roads. 

Rules and Regulations for Admission. 

Any honorably discharged officer, soldier or 
sailor who served in the Mexican, Civil or 
Spanish wars, and in the Provisional army, 
and who is disabled from wounds, disease, or 
otherwise, and who from such causes is incapable 
of earning a living, is entitled to the privileges 
of the Home. Those receiving a pension in 
excess of $16.00 per month are not eligible for 
admission except for special reasons. 

The Home has no facilities for the care of 
insane patients, and as a rule, this class of 
patients is not received, and when such a condi- 
tion develops in those who are already members 
of the Home, they are sent to the Government 
Asylum at Washington. 

" In all references made to those who are in 
the Home, they are designated as members in 

all official orders or communications." For 


The Author 
As lie Appeared When He Entered the Home. 


such as are entitled to the privileges of the Home, 
a blank application is provided which can be 
obtained from any member of the Board of 
Managers, or from the Home, and when filled 
out in accordance with instructions contained 
therein, if found eligible they are duly admitted. 
Applicants on original admission, who are 
unable to pay their transportation from their 
place of residence, are furnished the same when 
public funds for the purpose are available. 


Rules Governing the Discipline for 

the Proper Care of the Home 

and its Members. 

The rules and orders governing the Home 
have been made from time to time by the Board 
of Managers to suit the conditions, and for the 
proper punishment for any violation of such 
rules or orders, which are so light and easy that 
they can hardly be considered as at all severe, 
providing members are obedient thereto. All 
members are given a red card, permitting them 
to pass in and out with as much freedom as any 
citizen between the hours of 7 a. m. and 7 p. m., 
except Sundays, and this privilege may be 
extended to 8.30 p. m., or longer, if their conduct 
has been proper and no punishments for dere- 
liction of duty or of disobedience of the rules 
of the Home have been recorded against them. 
Special passes are given for Sundays for those 

Colonel Thomas T. Knox 
Governor of Southern Branch Appointed January I, 1905 


who wish to go outside for the purpose of 
attending church, and are from 10.30 a. m. 
until 9 p. m., or later. 

The gates may be closed at any time by order 
of the Governor for special inspections by the 
Board of Managers, and inspectors from the 
War Department, also for one week imme- 
diately succeeding pension pay-day, in order to 
prevent as much as possible the members from 
squandering their money in the outside resorts. 
The beer-hall within the enclosure is open, 
where the members can purchase a better 
quality of beer than can be had outside. This 
gives them the opportunity of sending away a 
portion of their pension money by post-office 
order, or otherwise, to friends or relatives at 
home; this is done by a very large number. 

Memorandum. — When the present Governor 
came to the Home, the branch regulations 
provided that the red card passes were not good 
on Sundays; that members who were tried a 
number of times would not be allowed their red 
cards at the expiration of the sentence, but after 


a given number of trials would receive only two 
special passes a week; that members would 
have to have a good record for two years before 
receiving a pass good until 8.30 p. m. The 
present Governor ruled that red cards should 
be good seven days a week instead of six; that 
when a member had completed his sentence his 
red card should be given to him. The length 
of time before privileges were given was reduced 
and the regulations now provide that after 
being at the Home three months, to establish 
his record, if it is good at that time, the member 
is given privileges to 8.30 p. m., and if his record 
is good for six months, then he is given privileges 
to 11.30 p. m. All such men have privileges 
from 7 a. m. until 11.30 p. m. every day in the 
week, the gates being closed against such passes 
only when there is an inspection by an officer 
representing the War Department or the Board 
of Managers. 

Entrance to the Home. 

There are three entrances to the Home, one 
at the terminal of the trolley line in Phoebus, 
one called the main gate and one at the bridge 
on the road out to Hampton, past the Old 
National Cemetery. They are called gates, but 
are only poles, at each of which is located a 
guard box for the protection of the guards, who 
are to be found at their stations day and night. 

In the opinion of the writer there appears to 
be one thing wanting to make an attractive 
entrance, viz., over each gate an arch, sur- 
mounted with an anchor, emblem of hope, and 
beneath it the word "welcome," and a suitable 
motto. Not that which was over the door of 
the Bastile in fair Paris during the reign of 
terror: "He who enters here leaves hope 

3 (33) 



behind;" but the anchor, blessed emblem of 
hope, and the word "welcome" to inspire the 
old soldier and sailor. For "hope must enter 
the hearts of all who enter here," when they 
realize what a generous provision the Govern- 
ment has made for them in their declining years, 
as but a partial reward for their services to 
their country during its darkest hours. 

At the time the writer entered, the grounds 
were in summer verdure, the birds were singing 
their sweet carols in the trees, the plants and 
flowers were in full bloom, giving forth their 
fragrance and perfume, the walks of cement 
shaded by trees of endless variety and gorgeous 
appearance, and the salt sea air wafted across 
its lawns from the Bay. 

At the guard-house I met with a kind and 
courteous inquiry as to my business, and when 
it was stated, a messenger was sent with me 
to headquarters, who ushered me into the 
adjutant's office. With a kind greeting I was 
asked my name and invited to a seat. A perfect 
system of records enabled a clerk to instantly 





place before the adjutant my application and 
letter of identification, which were found correct 
and to compare with my letter of notification. 
I was then sent by him, under escort of a mes- 
senger, to the hospital and ushered into the 
presence of the chief surgeon, who made the 
usual and accustomed examination, and asked 
me a few questions. I was then sent back to 
headquarters, and there assigned to a company, 
a messenger being sent with me who carried 
part of my baggage. 

On reaching the barracks I was introduced to 
the captain of the company and turned over to 
the sergeant, who permitted me to make a 
selection from several vacant beds, and I was 
made to feel at home. I found an old acquaint- 
ance among those in the dormitory, and at 
once set up housekeeping, in sweeping around 
and making up my bed, after having been given 
clean sheets and a pillow case. 

For several days I felt more like a guest than 
a member of the family, as all the others were 
dressed in the uniform of the Home, but on the 


following Monday morning, the day set apart, 
I was taken by the sergeant to the Quarter- 
master's Department and supplied with my first 
issue of clothing, a brand-new fatigue suit. It 
consisted of blouse, vest, trousers, shoes, hat, 
cap, white gloves, shirts, drawers and socks, 
everything a person needs except neckwear and 
handkerchiefs. The first is not required for 
dress and the latter were formerly given, but 
many were so careless as to lose them and they 
were soon omitted. One need not draw the 
underwear but can use his own and have it 
laundered outside. 

At the end of three months, an additional or 
second issue is made, consisting of a dress-coat, 
trousers, shirt, drawers, socks and shoes, so that 
a member has a full supply for all purposes; 
i. e., a set of underwear upon his person, a set 
in the laundry and a set in his locker, ready for 
emergency. By this time a member is reminded 
somewhat of over forty years ago, he has a 
similar appetite to that of those days, and the 
bugle call of " Roast Beef" is a gentle though 


welcome reminder that dinner is ready in the 
dining-room. Twenty minutes for dinner is 
allowed; bringing back forcibly to the writer's 
mind his experience on the road as a commercial 


Executive and Administration Department 

The Governor is supreme in authority, execut- 
ing the laws of Congress and carrying out the 
regulations prescribed by the Board of Mana- 
gers, exercising wisdom in doing so that is 
highly commendable. He has entire charge of 
the internal management of the Home and of 
carrying out the regulations. In so doing he is 
held responsible for the discipline, and economy 
in the management of the finances of his Branch. 
He sits as a judge in trying all complaints 
touching infraction of the rules and regulations, 
and decides all cases brought before him. The 
trials are held in the guard-house, commencing 
at 8.30 o'clock each morning except Sunday. 
It is indeed amusing at times to listen to those 
who have been placed under arrest during the 

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previous twenty-four hours, either by being sent 
in from the gates by the guards, or for disorder 
in the grounds or barracks. In the latter case 
the captain of the company files the complaint, 
but in the former case it is for infraction of the 
rules as to the time limit of passes, or inability 
to go it alone, caused by lingering too long in 
saloons and overindulgence of appetites. 

There is not the assembling of both sexes as 
is the case in a Recorder's or Magistrate's court 
in our cities. Every person on trial is permitted 
to make his own defense and call witnesses 
to prove his innocence of the charge made 
against him (which however is seldom done), 
and he can appeal his case to the Board of 
Managers, if he thinks injustice has been done 

The Governor exhibits the patience of Job, 
and the wisdom of Solomon in meting out 
justice, showing leniency for the first offence 
and increasing the punishment for each repeti- 
tion. Most of the cases are the result of intoxi- 
cation, and while the punishment is not severe 


it involves being deprived of their liberty in so 
far as going outside the gates is concerned and 
being placed in the gang for the dump, i. e., 
doing extra police duty; or it might be termed 
being placed in the White Wings. The hours 
required for even this punishment are few and 
the duty generally light, and dependent largely' 
upon the condition of the grounds from storms, 
falling leaves, etc. 

However, when a member is repeatedly 
brought before the Governor, the punishment is 
sometimes extended as far as ninety days within 
limits of the Home and sixty days police duty, 
with the hope of reforming the offender. He is 
deprived of part of his pension money, and can 
only draw such an amount monthly as in the 
wisdom of the Governor may be thought best, 
the balance remaining to his credit until such 
time as he may leave the Home or merit it by 
good behavior. This method enables a mem- 
ber to have something upon leaving, or to have 
money to go on furlough and he is thus not 
compelled to go away penniless. A member 





may ask for his discharge at any time even 
while under sentence, or for a transfer to 
another Branch, but not while sentence is held 
over him. After its expiration his privilege 
card is restored to him. 

In addition to the judicial care of the Home, 
the Governor has entire supervision of the store 
and news-stand and as to what shall be sold there. 
It is interesting to see the crowd gather when 
the daily papers arrive, for the old boys are 
eager for the news, and prefer to buy their own 
home paper to waiting their turns at the files in 
the Library, which are well supplied. 

The purchase of supplies for the provision- 
ing of the institution is always done by 
advertisement, and is given to the lowest 

The Governor makes a careful inspection of 
every department of the Home every three 
months, giving special attention to the accounts 
of money handled by the Treasurer, also prop- 
erty of each and every kind, both perishable and 
imperishable, making a report annually to the 


Board of Managers as required by the 

He is responsible for all purchases conform- 
ing, as to quality and quantity, with the speci- 
fications of the contract. He is also responsible 
for the repairs and supplies needed to keep the 
Home at all times in good condition, and the 
most rigid economy is exercised to prevent waste 
in every way. 

In case of any unusual occurrence having to 
do with the welfare of the Home, he reports the 
same at once to the Board. 


The Adjutant has charge of all records per- 
taining to admission, discharge, furloughs, 
passes, etc. In the safety vault in his office 
there is a large envelope for each and every 
member who has entered the Home from its 
beginning to the present time. In this envelope 
is the War record of each member from the 
date of his muster until his discharge, and all 
information pertaining to his disability, together 

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with his personal history during his stay at the 
Home. The Adjutant is a walking encyclo- 
pedia of information, and can tell you all that 
pertains to those who have come into the Home 
from its beginning. He is aided in his work by 
a corps of efficient clerks detailed from the 
various companies, and a Sergeant Major. 
The Adjutant assists the Governor in the 
preparation of all reports that have reference 
to the statistics of the Branch. All applicants 
first appear at his office either for admission or 
for re-admission. He makes up the case and 
then sends them before the Governor; he has 
charge of all correspondence pertaining thereto, 
also that with absent members, relating to dis- 
charges, furloughs, transfers, etc., etc. In fact 
all the business of the Home which has a bear- 
ing upon the coming and going of the members 
passes through his hands. In addition he must 
reply to many pathetic letters from wives and 
children enquiring after their loved ones who 
fail or neglect to write — or who may be sick in 
the hospital. In case of death they are im- 


mediately notified by telegraph, as explained 
in Chapter XXIII. This is a sad duty at 
times, for in some cases the one enquired after 
has gone over the divide, having failed to notify 
of change of his address, so the message sent 
could not be delivered. 


Dining Room and Kitchen. 

The Dining Room has a seating capacity for 
1,200 persons at one time, and is in charge of a 
Steward and Sergeant who are assisted by a 
corps of waiters detailed for that purpose from 
the several companies. They are dressed in 
white caps, aprons and jackets, and have 
charge of the tables, which are always kept neat 
and clean, being scoured and scrubbed after 
each meal. The tables are set with plates and 
pint bowls, silver-plated knives, forks and 
spoons, and everything pertaining to this depart- 
ment works like a well regulated clock. The 
bugle sounds a quarter of an hour before 
meal times, the hours for meals being 6 o'clock 
for breakfast, 12 for dinner and 5.30 for supper 
(5 p. m. on Sundays), the second table half an 
hour later during the early spring and summer 
months and half an hour earlier during the 
winter. It is indeed a pleasing sight to see the 



old soldiers, at the sound of the first call, wending 
their way from all directions to the attractive 
point, the Mess Hall, and reminds one of the 
crowds in the great metropolis as they move 
towards the Brooklyn Bridge, Pennsylvania 
Railroad station, or the Reading Terminal in 
Philadelphia at the close of business hours. 
The bugle again sounds, the doors are thrown 
open, and at the sound of the gong they enter 
in order, every man wearing his coat even in 
the hottest weather and with his hat or cap off". 
When they are seated, each one having his 
own seat, nothing on the table is touched until 
another sound of the gong, when the rattle of 
dishes begins. The tables are divided up into 
messes of six each, with food and coffee or tea 
for each of the six, who help themselves, and 
there is no standing on ceremony. There are 
separate tables for the cane men and the cripples, 
who are let into the dining room by themselves, 
five minutes before the meal is served, to avoid 
the rush. There are also separate tables for 
the colored company. It is wonderful that 








the task of washing all dishes and cutlery can be 
accomplished in ten minutes, the tables re- 
supplied with food, and the members for the 
second table march in just half an hour from 
the first call. Twenty minutes is allowed for 
dinner, railroad dining-room time, and none 
go away hungry. 

The kitchen is indeed a study from a sanitary 
point of view; the large tea and coffee urns 
shine brightly, the caldrons for cooking meats 
and vegetables are marvels of cleanliness, and 
are indeed a surprise to visitors, who go through 
this department daily, numbering sometimes 
nearly one hundred. All visitors are permitted 
to stand inside the dining room until the gong 
sounds, when they must promptly retire, many 
doing so reluctantly, their appetites undoubtedly 
being whetted in many cases from the aroma and 
odors arising from the tables, and only awaiting 
an invitation from the Sergeant to take a seat and 
help themselves. However, no visitors or other 
persons not members of the Home are per- 
mitted to eat at the mess-tables. Lady visitors 


are frequently challenged to find anything of an 
uncleanly or an unsavory nature, and go away 
amazed, wishing their kitchen girls would come 
and take lessons and go and do likewise. 

The food is of the very best and in good 
variety, every meal during the week being 
different, and on Fridays, in order to suit the 
conscience of those who eat no meat, choice 
No. I mackerel are provided for breakfast, and 
boiled codfish prepared with cream, or oysters 
for dinner. Friday's menu is as follows: 

Breakfast: 250 No. I extra mackerel; 10 
barrels potatoes; 2 barrels flour baked into 
excellent bread, with butter, coffee, etc. 

Dinner: 250 gallons of oysters, or codfish; 
bread pudding, chow-chow, soda crackers; 
bread, butter, coffee, etc. 

Supper: sweet buns, stewed prunes, cheese, 
butter, tea, etc. 

The above was for 2,000 members; one and 
a half tons of grapes were used on a previous 
evening. At another supper, twelve barrels of 
first quality apples were consumed, dried 





peaches, prunes, apples and cheese being fur- 
nished at other evening meals. Pot-roast beef, 
boiled ham, vegetable soup with beef, corned 
beef with cabbage, sauerkraut, etc., are among 
the articles of diet served during each week. 
Baked beans every Sunday morning with brown 
bread, cheese, sweet buns, corn bread and other 
articles such as bread pudding, rice pudding, 
cucumber pickles, etc., are included in the 
weekly bill of fare. 

The basement of this building is devoted to 
the paring of potatoes, onions, etc., and the 
preparation of other vegetables to be used in 
making hash; all of which is done by members 
detailed from the several companies daily, 
and requires only about three quarters of an 

When the place is thoroughly cleaned, the 
task of peeling onions is the most dreaded, and 
many a tear is shed over the work, but, like 
other tears, are soon dried up. A mammoth 
chopping machine prepares the meat and vege- 
tables for hash, when that article of diet is to be 



for the next morning's breakfast. Some of our 
economical housewives would stand aghast at 
the thickness of the potato parings, but Uncle 
Sam is rich enough to stand the strain without 
splitting hairs, and the garbage man finds no 

Since the foregoing was written a ma- 
chine has been installed for taking off the 
potato peelings. It consists of a revolving 
drum in which are placed clean gravel stones 
with the potatoes — thereby saving one-fifth in 
the loss — and the potatoes only need the eyes 
cut out after removal from the machine. All 
garbage is removed at once, a wagon waiting 
to receive it, and paying 25 cents a barrel for it. 

Ladies are frequently invited to taste the 
food served in the Mess Hall to the members, 
and with the bracing salt air, which sharpens 
their appetites, they do not mince matters as 
they would at a swell dinner-party, but fre- 
quently go away with their hunger appeased, 
as they are wont to do in city department 
grocery stores after tasting everything in sight. 



Barracks and Quarters. 

sanitary rules. 

There are comfortable quarters for the Com- 
panies from "A" to "O", and also for the 
Convalescent Company, and for employees in 
the various departments, some in the buildings 
where they are employed. There are 2,800 beds 
in all, fully equipped, embracing both those 
present and those absent on short furloughs, 
whose beds are retained for them. 

When a member is admitted to the Home, he 
is assigned to quarters, and makes his selection 
from the vacant beds. If he is wise or has been 
posted by a friend or comrade, he will keep 
away from windows, and select a bed between 
them, for the double purpose of avoiding 
draughts, and to be excused from the task of 
keeping the window clean. 


At 5.30 a. m., and one-half hour earlier in 
summer, when the bugle sounds, every man 
rises and throws back his bed clothes or hangs 
them on his chair for an airing. After break- 
fast each member sweeps around and makes 
up his bed and dusts off everything within his 
portion of the room. If crippled, he hires 
another member to do it for him, and usually 
engages one who draws no pension, as there are 
a number who have so far failed to conform to 
the pension laws. If he uses a cuspidore he is 
required to clean it in the lavatory every morn- 
ing. His work is then ended for the day unless 
on special detail, and he comes and goes as he 
pleases. On Fridays every bed has to be 
scalded, abundance of hot water being on hand 
for the purpose. This particular feature of 
cleanliness is considered an important one and 
rigidly carried out, to prevent the appearance 
of that intolerable pest to all old sleepers, the 
bed-bug. It is indeed a very rare thing for one 
to be seen, the preventive being successful; 
each man also scrubs his floor space and his 


locker; detailed men wash down the painted 
walls, doors and transoms, and at the close of 
the day there is not a bed, or a particle of floor 
space, either occupied or vacant, that has not 
been gone over. 

Every member is given clean bed linen weekly, 
consisting of sheet and pillow case, the top 
sheet placed on the mattress and clean one on 
top, the soiled ones being gathered up by a 
detail and taken to the Laundry. Every man 
is required to bathe once a week (and as many 
more times as he may wish), at this time he is 
required to change his underwear. On Satur- 
days he takes his soiled clothes to the Laundry 
and obtains those which he had left the week 
before, which usually consist of a shirt, socks, 
and a pair of canton flannel drawers. Members 
are permitted to wear under-clothing and shirts 
other than those supplied by the Government, 
and are at liberty to have them laundered out- 
side of the Home, no inconsiderable number 
adopting this plan. 

The bath rooms are well fitted up with the 


most modern plumbing in all of the recently 
constructed buildings, and the same sanitary 
plumbing is being placed in the older buildings. 
The wash rooms are up to date in their plumb- 
ing, and the lavatories are complete in every 
detail. In some of the bulidings they are 
flushed every minute by salt water drawn out 
of the bay by a system of pumps into tanks 
which hold sufficient water to last twenty-four 
hours in case of breakage of machinery. 

Each room occupied by members for living 
purposes is in charge of an Orderly, a member 
of the company, whose duty it is to see that 
rules and regulations are carried out in every 
respect, and in case of infraction on the part of 
any member, he immediately reports to the 
Commander or Sergeant. Every member must 
be in quarters at 9 p. m., unless otherwise 
excused, and at taps, 9.30, lights are out and the 
boys are sleeping the sleep of the just and the 
innocent. In their dreams they may be charg- 
ing the enemy, as in the eventful days of '61 
to '65, or perchance talking to loved ones at 







home, and may be dreaming of the better world 
beyond. The Bible is noticed on the lockers 
of many of the members, who can often be seen 
bending low over its sacred pages, and kneeling 
in silent prayer before retiring, with no one to 
molest them or make them afraid. 

Quartermaster's Department 

The rules and regulations of the army, in a 
modified form to suit conditions, are used in 
this department, as to suitability of clothing 
for use of the members and supplies for use in 
barracks, and for the various branches of repair 
work and maintenance. 

No clothing is given or sold to members, but 

loaned for their use and issued to members on 

requisitions from company commanders, who 

are held responsible to this department for its 

care. When a veteran enters the Home, has 

been examined by the Surgeon and assigned to 

a company, he is taken to the Quartermaster's 

Department by the sergeant of the company 

and properly fitted out with the first issue. He 

is given entirely new clothing, which consists of 

blouse, vest, cap, hat, trousers, shoes, two pairs 









of socks, two pairs of drawers, two shirts, one 
pair of suspenders and a pair of white gloves. 

When he has been three months in the Home, 
a second issue is made consisting of one dress 
coat, one pair of trousers, one shirt, one pair of 
drawers, two pairs of socks, and another pair of 
shoes, so that he can have one change of under- 
wear at the laundry, one set in his locker, and 
a suit on his person. The extra shoes and 
trousers being for use in case of getting wet or 
being in the shops for repairs. 

When a member goes away on furlough his 
entire outfit is bundled up carefully and returned 
to the Quartermaster's Department, where it is 
kept for three months, after which time it is 
disinfected in a building used for this purpose. 
It is then scoured, repaired, and re-issued to 
members returning from furlough. There is 
no loss of clothing, and only when it is worn out 
is it exchanged for other clothing, and after 
being condemned as of no further use as such, 
is again issued for mop cloths and wash rags 
for cleaning purposes, or sold as old rags. A 


closer economy could not obtain in the home of 
the most frugal housekeeper. 

The same care and economy is used with all 
implements in barracks and shops. Old brooms 
are exchanged for new ones, and then issued for 
the sweeping of sidewalks, and the same care is 
exercised with every article used in all of the 
various departments. 

An allowance of perishable supplies such as 
soap, blacking, lye, etc., is issued weekly to 
every company. This requisition is first care- 
fully examined and approved, so that no more 
than what is actually necessary shall be issued, 
the quantity being based upon the size of the 
barracks and the number of members in the 




Commissary Department: Its Building 
and Supplies. 

This branch of the Home is under the control 
of the Quartermaster, and is indeed a marvel of 
completeness in all its various sections, resem- 
bling a large wholesale grocery. Every article 
received is carefully examined as to its purity, 
quality, etc., and must conform to the specifica- 
tions of the contract. Issues are made on 
requisitions drawn by the Commissary in charge 
of the dining room, or the chief surgeon in 
charge of the hospital. Also to the hotel on 
the grounds, which is run for the benefit of the 
Home, while at the same time it serves as 
a place of entertainment for relatives and friends 
of members and others who come to visit them, 
either in the barracks or in the hospital. 

An ice plant is in operation making an amount 
of ice sufficiently large to supply all buildings 



within the enclosure, including a large quantity- 
used in the hospital and morgue, the ice being 
made from distilled water only. Eight hundred 
and sixty-five tons of ice were produced during 
the year at a cost of seventy-six cents per ton. 

There is also a large cold-storage room which 
is always full of the best beef and other meats, 
a separate apartment being provided for butter 
and such delicacies as are required for diet in 
the hospital. 

A coffee roasting and grinding machine of 
the most improved style has been installed and 
is in successful operation daily; it has been 
found that when coffee is purchased green 
attempts at adulteration are prevented. The 
basement of the building is equipped with every 
convenience for handling stores, both heavy 
goods and vegetables. A track runs the full 
length of the basement by which supplies are 
distributed, such as barrels, and other heavy pro- 
visions, and placed directly in their proper 
places. A portion of this basement or cellar 
contains bins for potatoes, onions, cabbage, and 


other vegetables ; these bins are in size ten by 
twelve feet, and six feet in height. 

A walk down to the wharf where supplies are 
landed by steamers from New York, Philadel- 
phia and Baltimore, gives opportunity to see 
the process of unloading, and upon going into 
the receiving warehouse we see, first, the follow- 
ing supplies: two barrels of whiskey six years 
old; one barrel of wood alcohol; cases of Apolli- 
naris; all of which are for use in the hospital 
dispensary and drug department. Other arti- 
cles of stores too numerous to mention meet the 
eye when examining this vast storehouse. 


Treasury Department. 

This department is in charge of the trea- 
surer, an experienced officer, who is assited 
by a corps of clerks who are old veterans of 
the Home. The receipts and disbursements 
of all funds are controlled by him, including the 
General Fund and Post Fund, together with the 
Pension Fund and special funds. To show the 
perfection of the system used in handling this 
important fund, i. e., the Pension Fund, it requires 
only about two hours to pay every pensioner in the 
Home. The rolls are prepared and sent to each 
company, the captain musters his men, who sign 
in duplicate, and they are then returned to the 
Treasurer. The Pension Agent at Washington 
remits the total amount in bulk, and the amount 
due each pensioner is placed in an envelope, 
properly briefed on the outside, and on the 
following day each company goes to the office, 

Company L Barracks 


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McCleixan AVENI'E 


and the work is completed without friction or 

When a pensioner is away on furlough, having 
made the request on a blank form furnished, 
which after being duly executed is sent to the 
Treasurer, his pension money is forwarded to 
him. If the pensioner be present at the Home, 
and the arrangement has been made, one half 
of the pension is sent to the wife, or to any child 
or relative dependent upon him for support, or 
should the pensioner desire to draw only a por- 
tion of his quarterly pension, he can leave the 
balance in the hands of the Treasurer. This 
money he can draw at any future time, in the 
event of furlough, leaving the Home by dis- 
charge, or by transfer to another Home. 

Power House. 

This building or plant stands almost in the 
centre of the grounds and furnishes steam for all 
the engines at the pumping stations, in the 
machine shops, laundry, and bakery, and supplies 
steam heat to every building on the grounds. 
It has a bank of seven horizontal, three loco- 
motive type and five water-tube boilers; two of 
200 horse-power each, eight of 150 horse-power 
each and five of 60 horse-power each, supplied 
by eight Worthington pumps and two hot feed 

The engines are run day and night, includ- 
ing Sundays, all the engineers and firemen being 
experienced in their calling and old veterans of 
the Home; this force is divided into shifts, 
which makes it easy for them. 

The large smoke stack, eighty feet in height, 
can be seen for a great distance, in this low lying 

The New Power House 


country; it is symmetrical in appearance, and 
considered a masterpiece of workmanship. 

There are 14,277 feet of pipes for steam and hot 
water, furnishing heat and hot water to every 
building on the grounds, in addition to 14,675 
feet of cold water pipes, besides pipes for fire 


This is a very interesting feature of the Home 
for visitors; all clothing and bed linen being 
washed here excepting such as belongs to 
patients in hospital and to the hospital proper; 
that institution having facilities for doing 
its own laundry work. 

Each member is entitled to have three pieces 
laundered each week; a shirt, a pair of drawers 
and a pair of socks, and in necessary cases this 
allowance may be increased. The bed linen, 
one sheet and one pillow case, is changed once 
a week on every bed in the company on Saturday 
morning, and the soiled articles sent to the 
laundry on the same day. 

The members may wash their private or 
civilian underwear any day in the week and 
dry it on lines prepared for that purpose, or it 
may be given out to persons outside who make 



a business of doing this work for the members. 
The wash-women are not permitted to enter the 
barracks for this purpose, but send their hus- 
bands or a male friend for the clothing to be 
laundered, bringing the clean articles in at the 
same time. Numbers are supplied to each and 
every member of the Home, which are sewed on 
the several articles of clothing, and by a thor- 
ough and excellent system articles rarely ever 
go astray. 

The toweling is also changed twice a day in 
every wash room, and sent to the laundry. 


Mechanical Departments. 

A machine shop, in charge of an experienced 
machinist or engineer, with able assistants who 
are detailed men, look after all repairs to ma- 
chinery, steam fitting and plumbing; the shop is 
fully supplied with all the necessary supplies. 
Nothing is manufactured here, only small 
repairs that require immediate attention being 
done. Extensive repairs are let out by con- 


In this shop are experienced mechanics who 
repair all roofs, spouting, etc., as well as all 
the tin-ware used in the kitchen and dining- 
room and in other departments. 


A large number of men are detailed and 



employed here, who are kept busy looking after 
the wood-work and repairs to same, also mend- 
ing and repairing furniture in the barracks and 
hospital. An important feature of this work is 
the re-placing of the woven wire of the iron bed- 
steads, which rusts out rapidly from the con- 
tinual washing with hot water done to guarantee 
absolute cleanliness in every part of the cots. 


This shop has been referred to in Chapter IX, 
incidentally, and is a bee-hive of industry. 
Many members are employed here in repairing 
clothing and making alterations. 

Every two weeks a call is made in every 
barracks for those whose clothes need cleaning 
or mending, and it is surprising to see the large 
number going to the tailor. One can have his 
clothing pressed as often as he pleases. 


Is it any wonder that this shop should be a 
busy place, when so many have nothing else to 
do but walk about the grounds, and far into the 


adjoining country, as well as on the pavements 
of Hampton, Phcebus, and even Newport News ? 
As the highways are invariably covered with 
shells or broken stone, the foot gear of the old 
soldier wears out rapidly. The work in this 
shop, as in all other shops, is done by detailed 
men, members of the Home who are paid for 
their services, and work but eight hours per day. 
This department is truly a cobbler's shop, for 
repairs only are made to the shoes furnished by 
contractors, which are made in the very best 
manner and, as a rule, from excellent material. 
The men are not hurried in their work in any 
of the shops. 


Here are to be found artists in their line of 
business, who can talk you to sleep and nearly 
to death. All subjects under the sun are taken 
up and exhausted with as much alacrity as the 
razor is wielded over the wrinkled and grizzled 
faces of the old boys. Many of them have to be 
awakened after the soothing balm has been 




applied, and the echo of that familiar word 
"next" has been sounded by the "talking 
and shaving machine," as he gracefully winds 
himself up for an attack on "next." 

The colored company is provided with a 
shop separate from the main barber shop. 

Printing Office. 

The composing and type-setting room is in 
charge of an expert foreman with a number of 
assistants, equipped with a full line of type, and 
other material. There are also foot presses 
large enough to do all the local work of the 
Home, such as printing general and special 
orders, programmes for music for the Sunday 
afternoon concerts, and for entertainments in 
the theatre, and such other job work as may be 

All of the regular blanks used, however, are 
furnished from headquarters, Board of Mana- 


This work is in charge of an expert workman 

(for it takes an expert to make a new book out 

of an old one), who is kept busy at this kind of 

work, and such other work as is required by the 

Adjutant's Office, such as binding the monthly 

reports, etc., and work of the other departments. 


Fire Department. 

While the United States Government, under 
the direction of the Governor, provides every- 
thing we need for our comfort and to make us 
happy and contented, it does not forget to throw 
around us every safe-guard against that worst 
of all enemies, fire. The boys could stand the 
fire on battlefields or in conflicts at sea, but it 
would be quite another thing to face a fire or 
escape from one in our barracks, so everything 
is provided for our protection and safety. 

The main building, hospital and theatre are 
provided with fire escapes as are some of the 
barracks where it is thought they are needed. 
Every building is liberally supplied with portable 
fire extinguishers, hose and pipe on each floor, 
and a full supply of fire-buckets, always filled 
and covered. Fire axes are placed in all 
buildings in readiness for immediate use, but 


more important than all in this regard is a fully 
equipped fire department. There is an engine 
house centrally located in which is a hook and 
ladder truck with ladders and other apparatus. 
Two hose carriages with 1,500 feet of hose, and 
two double cylinder chemical fire extinguishers 
on wheels with 300 feet of hose on each of the 
reels, complete the equipment. 

A captain and his men are stationed at the 
engine house day and night, having their sleep- 
ing quarters in the second story, and are on 
permanent detail. They are chosen as far as 
possible from old firemen who have had expe- 
rience in that line of duty in our largest cities, 
and in addition, there is a large corps of reserves 
in every company, whose duty it is to respond 
to any and all alarms irrespective of what they 
may be doing at the time. Test alarms are given 
at times when least expected in order to prove 
their efficient working. The force is in charge 
of a chief engineer, who knows how to fight the 
fire, should that dire calamity occur. Singularly 
indeed, there has never been an occasion to 

W. C. Idail 
Chief Engineer. 


prove the efficiency of this body of men, which 
speaks volumes for the care and watchfulness 
of the officers of the several companies, where 
smoking is so continuously indulged in. Force 
pipes are in the larger buildings, such as hos- 
pital, theatre, etc., with hose attached and ready 
for use. The apparatus is tested regularly and 
can always be relied upon for action, as well as 
the men who handle it. 

The writer is an exempt member of the New 
York Fire Department and foreman of one of the 
three companies to first use a steam fire engine, 
and knows whereof he writes on this subject. 

Note. — Since this was written a large fire 
occurred in the kitchen of the dining hall, from 
crossed electric light wires, but was well man- 
aged and only partially destroyed that part of 
the building. It occurred in the night, but was 
extinguished with as much skill as would have 
been the case in one of our large cities. 


Beer Hall and Post Exchange. 

Sad to say, the beer hall is more attractive to 
a large number of the members than either the 
library or reading room, and in popularity is only 
excelled by the dining room, to which they are 
drawn three times a day only. At the former 
place, however, at all hours of the day, from the 
time it opens in the morning until its close, many 
can be found who make use of the opportunity 
to quench their thirst, and whilst doing so talk 
over battles fought in the early sixties, and other 
topics. Occasionally one may be seen who has 
lingered too long at the overflowing glass, but 
as soon as discovered by the eagle eye of the 
superintendent or his assistants, neither his 
money nor his tickets are good for the balance of 
the day. The rules and regulations established 
by the Board of Managers, and added to by the 
Governor to suit the conditions at the Home, are 
strictly carried out and any member disobeying 

The Esplanade, Fronting Bay 

Beer Hall (Now Extinct) 


them is punished by the withdrawal of the 
privileges, or restricted to a certain number of 
glasses per day. In addition, he gives up his 
red card pass, and is assigned to police duty 
for such time as the Governor may deem proper, 
which is regulated by the number of times the 
offender has been previously brought to the 

The all important question of temperance, 
which agitates all classes of society, has been the 
vexed question with the Board of Managers for 
years, and at a meeting of the Board, held August 
27, 1904, the following resolutions were adopted: 

1. That temperance is to be taught and 
encouraged at all times. 

2. No member visibly under the influence of 
intoxicants shall be admitted to the beer halls. 

3. The beer halls shall not be opened before 
breakfast, and shall be closed between the hours 
of twelve to one o'clock, noon, and closed for the 
day one-half hour before supper. 

4. But one ticket shall be sold to any member 
at any one time. 


5. Governors of Branches may limit the 
amount of beer to be sold to any one member, 
and may make special arrangements for mem- 
bers employed in shops or in any other capacity. 

Note.— Of course it is hardly necessary to say 
that all buildings are closed on Sunday, except 
the Adjutant's Office, and that also after morn- 
ing reports have been received from the various 
commands and details made for the following day. 

The quality of beer is of the best, and the 
glasses are large. On pension day and for a 
week afterward the place is crowded; the men 
standing in long lines such as may be seen at 
the Post Office and the oft-heard order in battle, 
"fire and fall back," is changed to "Drink and 
fall back for your next turn." The lame and 
feeble have the privilege of drinking their beer 
seated around small tables, and the scene some- 
times reminds one of the German beer garden, 
with the women and children left out. Indeed 
it would be so much better if their thirst was 
appeased here, but as soon as the gates are 
opened they flock to the town outside, and there 


drink the vile stuff sold by the saloons of Phoebus. 
The writer does not wish to criticise the acts of 
the law makers, the Congress of the United 
States, and while he is a prohibitionist himself, 
his optic views, studies and impressions convince 
him that it would be far better for the Govern- 
ment to permit a good quality of whiskey to be 
sold in the Home, at the same price for which 
they buy five-cent rats in the vile dens outside. 
Even if there were no profits in the transaction 
for the post or amusement fund resulting, there 
would at least be longer lives for some of the old 
men, and the records of the hospital will bear 
out the assertion, for those who crave whiskey 
will have it and they will resort to any and every 
means to get it. After any pension day the 
effects may be plainly seen in the increased 
number admitted for medical treatment, and 
further than that, by the greater number of 
deaths. "Of the two evils choose the least"; 
give them good liquor inside and they will not 
seek the dens and brothels outside. 

Ways and Means. 

It is surprising to see the spirit for money- 
getting here, and the ways resorted to to earn 
an honest penny — no trust-busting schemes, 
promoters of misery, or corporations. 

The sign standing over the archway of the 
Tithing House at Salt Lake — Bee Hive, — 
would be suitable here, for if there is a will 
there seems always to be a way to earn a little 
money (although the demand for labor in the 
various departments gives employment to about 
500 persons, who draw pay for their services), 
enough to keep the members in spending money, 
without having to work very hard for it. 

Some are fishermen, others catch crabs and 
dig oysters, clams, etc., while others do tailoring, 
repairing civilian clothes and fixing them up for 
furlough. Indeed it is very noticeable that the 
old men like to look their best before starting 



on the home visit. "Umbrellas to mend" is not 
chanted out in that very uncertain and question- 
able voice, yet an old member has a well 
equipped stand at the main building, and when 
a long spell of fair weather makes the umbrella 
business somewhat dull, he amuses himself 
working on canes. In passing through a bar- 
racks a locksmith has his kit laid out on his bed, 
is engaged in repairing the locks on grip-sack, 
but he will not wear diamonds from the profits 
of his business here, locks not being allowed on 
the lockers, and an instance of pilfering is 
rarely known as a spirit of honesty seems to 
enter into the very lives of the veterans of all 

Then there is a commission merchant who 
goes around selling old clothes — a sort of go- 
between for comers and goers. A comrade 
comes in with a good civilian suit which he has 
no use for while here, and perchance wants 
money for other purposes. He straightway 
seeks the commission merchant and strikes a 
bargain with him, as he probably has a pros- 



pective purchaser in some one about to visit 
home and friends by means of furlough. So the 
buyer with his pension money and possibly other 
funds saved and earned, starts for home and 
loved ones with a strange suit upon his back, 
which in after months or years may in turn suit 
other cases. 

A watchmaker helps us to keep the time, 
although the bugler never misses his calls, and 
every call is familiar to all; from the morning 
call at 5.30, " I can't get 'em up, I can't get 'em 
up; I can't get 'em up in the morning," to taps 
and extinguishing of all lights, the veterans 
know the music to the minute and the hour. 

Quite a number of the members are employed 
outside, who eat and sleep inside, while others 
who have families in Phoebus or Hampton have 
what is known as "sleep-out passes," and work 
in various ways within the Home. It may 
readily be seen that the Government helps us 
to help ourselves, and thereby removes every 
thought of mendicancy in coming to the Home. 
When the sad day comes, as it will to all of us, 


when we cannot help ourselves, we have here a 
Home where we can have everything done for 
us, and when no more can be done to prolong 
our lives, we are kindly laid away to rest to 
await the bugle blast of the Archangel. He will 
have no occasion to sound the call of the bugler 
here to arise in the morning, but that call will 
echo through the realms of space; then even the 
nameless dead buried in crooked trenches, as 
well as those resting in the quiet cities of the 
dead at Soldiers' Homes and National Ceme- 
teries shall hear and obey, and arise to assemble 
with their loved ones in the haven of rest. 

The Band. 

"Music hath charms to soothe the savage 
breast," is an old and a trite saying, and has its 
daily exemplification here, for in summer the old 
men in large numbers may be seen gathered 
around the band stand when the band is playing 
the regular concerts. During the winter season, 
concerts are held every Sunday evening for an 
hour in the theatre. The corps of musicians, 
with their excellent leader, are kept busy attend- 
ing funerals almost every day of the week; all 
are men of experience in their profession, many 
of them having played in the best bands of the 
country for years, and some even have had 
experience in their work in foreign countries. 

They practice regularly in their quarters, 
located some distance from the other buildings 
of the Home, and it is indeed a quaint and cosy 





place for these dreamy, romantic people, whose 
efforts are given over to the entertainment of the 
Home members, while at the same time they are 
enjoying a repose, mingled with soul secrets and 
tragedies which only a true lover of myth, 
music and melody can appreciate. 

Too much cannot be said in commendation 
of this body of men, for their playing is indeed 
one of the most lovely features of the Home, 
from the open-air concerts on Sabbath after- 
noons, their music in the theatre while the 
talented ones perform, down to the last call; 
when taps are sounded, and "earth to earth" in 
solemn tones is said. 

The music of the Home band is enjoyed by 
many people not connected with the Home, 
the officers and soldiers of Fortress Monroe, the 
throng of workmen engaged at Newport News; 
the students of African extraction, and from the 
Indian reservations, who compose the great 
Normal School, being irresistibly drawn from 
their various occupations and studies to listen 
to the sweet music. The country lads and 


lassies drive in for miles around and those from 
the towns and villages consider the Home con- 
certs as one of the features of life, — all are wel- 
come, the only requirement being good order 
and respectful deportment. 






Much has been done by the Government 
and by the Governor to provide every way and 
means possible with expediency, to cheer the 
hearts of the members in their loneliness, away 
from their families, friends and acquaintances. 
Among the various attractions are: 

This building, constructed expressly for the 
purpose, was erected in 1881 with a part of one 
hundred thousand dollars left by General 

Ward, by will, to be used in providing 

amusements for the old soldiers, and is called 
the "Ward Memorial Theatre." It has a seat- 
ing capacity of 1,400, and is constructed with a 
parquet and two galleries, also dress circle and 
balcony seats, and three private boxes on each 
side of the stage, which is furnished with a com- 


plete set of scenery, and other appurtenances 
including a drop curtain, one of asbestos, and 
complete electrical outfit. 

The stage is seventy-two feet by twenty-seven 
feet deep and large enough for all ordinary pur- 
poses. Opportunities are given regularly dur- 
ing the theatrical season for traveling troops 
and stars to place upon the boards the best they 
have, before as critical an audience as can be 
found in the largest cities, and among whom 
can be found many who have been first nighters 
and regular attendants at plays presented by 
Forrest, Booth, Jefferson, and others of talent. 
The leading professionals who appear here ap- 
preciate this fact, and anxiously look for encores, 
dreading any cool reception as they would in 
our largest cities. 

The liberal provision made by the Governor 
invariably ensures crowded houses, as many of 
the people from adjoining towns and cities are 
regular attendants, as well as the officers and 
soldiers from the nearby fortifications at Old 
Point. This dispels that uniformity of dress 






which would be the case if only members of the 
Home were in attendance; for the beauty and 
dress of the Virginia belles, with that of the 
officers' wives and families here at the Home, 
can hardly be excelled. 

The admission is free to the old veterans and 
the cost of the entertainment is paid for out of 
the amusement fund supported by the profits 
from the hotel, beer-hall, store, news-stand, and 
ice-cream parlors. An admission fee is required 
of all not members of the Home. Veterans are 
detailed in charge of the building as mana- 
gers, ushers, electricians, engineers, and others 
such as are usually found behind the curtain. 
As a reward for good conduct only those who are 
not under sentence for misdemeanors are given 
tickets of admission, and all members of the 
Home such as non-commissioned officers, and 
men on detail who receive pay for their services, 
are charged a very small fee for reserved seats, 
should they wish to occupy them. If not, other 
seats are free to them. 

Note. — Since writing the above, the Victor 


Talking Machine Company has generously 
donated one of their best machines, for use in 
the Chapel, and to amuse the old vets in the 
theatre. With the machine came music that 
cheers and brings back remembrances of '61 to 
'65, such as "Marching through Georgia," 
"The Star Spangled Banner" and other patriotic 
airs as well as ragtime songs and dances. It 
would do the hearts of the President and staff 
of the Victor Company good if they could hear 
the jolly laughs and encores given to the music 
so generously furnished by them. 


A large hall in which are two billiard and two 
pool tables, with a full equipment of cues and 
balls and other appliances pertaining thereto, is 
provided, where many members pass pleasant 
hours. On the lower floor of the building is a 
card, chess and checker room, equipped with 
comfortable chairs and attractive tables. All 
classes of players gather there, from the novice 
to the expert; no betting or stakes are allowed, 


1 1 


1 ' .11 




the penalty for breaking this rule would be 
severe and in fact the severest imposed by the 

A room is set apart in this building, furnished 
with tables, pens, ink, paper, etc., as a writing 
room, in which at all times absolute quiet and 
exceptional order are required. Could these 
tables reveal secrets, what burning tears, what 
expressions of love and regret, what joys and 
sorrows might be brought from their inanimate 
rappings; letters to the dear old wife, girl of '61- 
'65; fond words to an aged mother, and cheering 
thoughts expressed as in days of yore, to grand- 
children, and others who still hold a tender cord 
in the breast of the veteran. 


This room is supplied with the leading papers 
of the various states of the Union, religious 
weeklies, and monthly magazines; upon its 
shelves are about 8,000 volumes, which are con- 
stantly being added to by purchase, donation, 
etc. The veterans can be found at all hours of 


the day and evening bending over some book 
or paper, drinking in the current literature of 
the day, the news columns, and other intellec- 
tual matter according to their tastes, to be later 
talked over in the shade of the trees along the 
water front, in the barracks or elsewhere. They 
can also take books to their quarters, which is 
largely done. 

It is truly astonishing to listen to their graphic 
descriptions of important events, their intellec- 
tual discussions of events of moment in the past 
as well as of the present. Science, art, and in 
short, almost any problem of the day has its 
turn, and as for military science, the great game 
of war, it would seem that Grant, Wellington or 
Napoleon were indeed far behind in their calling 
as compared with the ideas of some of these old 

The management of the Home comes in for 
a goodly share of criticism, along with great 
questions of government and state. At the 
sound of the bugle, "Roast Beef Call," dis- 
cussions end, and all make a bee line for the 


% • >. 


- ■ 

- jj! „»'... :. 1 



If Ml 


*• -—pi 



dining room where, to use the words of our 
mothers, the children discuss no questions, nor 
do any talking, but let the food stop their mouths 
for a time. 


Many of the old veterans own their boats, 
some of which are naphtha launches, and the 
attractions of the calm surface of the broad 
expanse of water in the Roads are thoroughly 
enjoyed by many, some being experts, not only 
in fishing and crabbing, but also in handling 
their boats. The supply of fish, crabs, oysters, 
clams, etc., seems inexhaustible and affords 
many a substantial meal, as a change from the 
regular menu of the Home. Indeed many of 
the old boys make this a regular business, selling 
to comrades what they do not want, and in this 
way some have accumulated quite a bank 
account by their industry and economy. 

Note. — The writer has his own boat (eight- 
een feet long with deck fore and aft, and a six 
foot cockpit in which is a fish well) carrying 


130 feet of canvas, and has spent many an 
hour after leaving his desk in the Adjutant's 
Office, fishing and sailing in Chesapeake 
Bay and Hampton Roads (all fish stories 


Some years ago a building was erected within 
the enclosure as a "Keely Cure," and there are 
in the Home to-day evidences of its good 
results in the form of permanent cures. How- 
ever, so few availed themselves of its oppor- 
tunities together with its restraints and expense, 
that it was soon abandoned and the building 
changed in the interior, and made suitable for 
lodge purposes. Here the several Posts of the 
G. A. R., the Veteran Legion, and other patriotic 
organizations permitted in the Home, regularly 
hold their meetings. The lower floor is fitted 
up with reading-room, billiard and pool rooms, 
which are used by members of a club made up 
of congenial spirits, and whose members are 
chosen by ballot. The expense of running the 


club is met by a small initiation fee and yearly 


A large lawn near the main gate is set aside 
for outdoor sports, not, however, indulged in by 
the "old sports," they merely forming the on- 
looking throng. Baseball and football teams 
from the young fellows at the Fort, civilian clubs 
from the towns and country around, as well as 
clubs from our fighting machines steaming in 
and out of the Harbor, or lying like mammoth 
sleeping beauties in the offing, play on this 
ground. These games are enjoyed regularly 
by large numbers of ladies from Phcebus, 
Hampton, Newport News, etc. A nominal 
charge for admission is made to all outsiders at 
the three gates of entrance, but there is no 
charge for members of the Home. 


A covered structure on the wharf opposite 
the Normal School is fitted up for this purpose 
and is liberally patronized during the bathing 


season. The space under this building is 
enclosed to keep out floating sea-weed and 
other matter and the bathing ground is perfectly 
safe even for such as cannot swim, not being 
over six feet deep at flood tide. Many of the 
old soldiers find much enjoyment in the summer 
season sporting in the salt water; it relieves 
their rheumatic pains, makes them feel young 
again, and it has resulted in permanent cures in 
many cases. 





Store, Restaurant, and News Stand. 

The store is in charge of polite and obliging 
clerks, chosen from members of the Home, and 
ready at all times to wait on visitors and mem- 
bers. It is well stocked with such articles as 
the members may want, from a needle to a 
cuspidor. A full line of gentlemen's furnish- 
ings is kept in stock, but the principal business 
is in tobacco, cigars and smokers' articles, the 
sale of which exceeds that of many stores in the 
cities, a large majority here being smokers and 
chewers of tobacco. The visitor will find many 
souvenirs from which to make a selection. 
Prices are as low as in the stores of nearby cities, 
and while there is no competition, cut prices or 
mark-down sales, selling out at cost, etc., many 
articles can be had lower than elsewhere, as 
business is done strictly for cash. 

The restaurant is in charge of a soldier's 
7 (97) 


widow and her two daughters, who are ever 
ready to supply hot coffee, chocolate, tea and 
milk, with pies and cakes and a variety of 
canned goods, confectionery, ice-cream, etc. It 
is well patronized by the old veterans and their 
friends who visit them. These two places are 
under the direction of the officers of the Home, 
the profits from them going into the Post Fund, 
as do those from the hotel and beer hall; from 
this the expenses for amusements, band, etc., 
are paid. 

The news-stand is supplied with the daily 
papers from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore 
Washington and other places, as well as a 
goodly assortment of monthly magazines, pic- 
ture postal cards and photos of scenes in and 
around the Home. Although the stand is 
rented out to a member of the Home it is under 
the control of the Governor, and officers of his 




The Chapel. 

Around this modest building, centrally sit- 
uated in the grounds, are clustered memories 
of those who have gone in and out from the 
services held regularly by the Chaplain of the 
Home, or the priest who looks after the spiritual 
needs of those of his faith. It is not a place 
where the young and joyous gather to carry on 
their courtship, or to criticise each others 
apparel; but one where the last sad rites are 
said and where silent tears are shed by old and 
true friends, whose attachments formed here 
are only broken by the last summons. 

Sometimes she, the partner of his life, who has 
shared his joys and sorrows for so many years; 
she who stood at the cottage door, watching and 
waving that fond adieu amid smiles and tears, 
in '61 and '62; watching and weeping as the 
years roll by, then kneeling in prayer on his 


return, on being informed by wire of the death 
of him she loved, has knelt here in this 
little chapel in the Soldiers' Home. What 
sacred, tender memories cluster around its 
every feature; the brother, the son, the grand- 
children, the loving sister, and others who in 
life held the memory of the veteran dear to their 
hearts, who though absent from them, was ever 
present in their thoughts; these have gathered 
here to commit the departed soul to the keeping 
of the Great Commander. A eulogy is delivered 
by the chaplain in words of feeling shaken by 
memories of deeds of valor on many a battle- 
field, his daring and doing for country and home 
and to preserve the Union of States for all time. 
Services are held here every Sabbath by the 
Chaplain of the Home, also by a priest of the 
Roman Catholic faith from Phoebus, mass 
being said in the morning. Services are also 
held here weekly in the evening during the entire 
year in the form of a sermon on Wednesday 
night by the regular chaplain to the veteran 
branch of the Christian Temperance Union 






which is presided over by Mrs. Bradley, the wife 
of the veteran chaplain. There is in addition 
a well organized branch of the Christian 

These meetings are all well attended by the 
old men, as well as by the younger men from 
the fort at Old Point and citizens from outside 
who are interested in these meetings. A Bible 
Class meets every Sunday afternoon, and is 
well attended. 

The Hospital. 

One of the largest buildings on the grounds 
of the Home is the hospital, which is in charge 
of a surgeon-in-chief, with a corps of assistant 

Trained female nurses (the only members of 
the fair sex employed here, except laundresses, 
scrub-women and officers' nurses) are assisted 
by a force of men who are detailed from the 
members of the Home to act as assistant nurses 
in all its various departments. The building 
being of recent date, the latest and most sanitary 
plumbing arrangements are fitted throughout; 
the relatives and friends of the members who are 
compelled by old age or disease, such as comes 
to all of us, may rest assured that all that can be 
done to prolong the lives, and ameliorate suffer- 
ing and pain, is done for the old veterans here. 





The operating room is thoroughly equipped, 
for only those advanced in years are brought to 
the table, and as the profession knows they are 
the most difficult cases to treat and the slowest 
ones to recover. The records as to success 
will compare favorably with any other similar 
institution in our country. The furniture and 
bedding are of the very best, and up to date 
devices for disinfection and sterilization are 
employed. The X-ray is frequently used to 
locate fractures, find old rebel lead embedded 
for years, and for the treatment of cancer, etc., 
and with as much success as has been done 

The diet-kitchen and all other departments 
are marvels of cleanliness, and the apparatus 
pertaining to it is up to date in all respects. 
Many of the old veterans may be seen in their 
rolling chairs, basking in the sun on the broad 
and extensive verandas. Crutches are as com- 
mon as canes in the annex or in the Convalescent 
Company, and if cases of recovery were to be 
proved by an exhibit of the same, Dowie's dis- 


play would sink into insignificance in com- 
parison. Easy and rolling chairs abound in 
which the old boys can rest their weary bodies 
when tired of lounging on their beds. 

Relatives are admitted, and it is a pleasant 
sight to see them at all hours of the day sitting 
at the bedsides of their loved ones or on the 
porches, which occupy the entire front of the 
building facing to the south, as well as both ends 
and the rear, and overlooking the ocean and 
bay. On this bay the conflict between the 
Monitor and Merrimac was fought, and pos- 
sibly some of its old heroes may have been 
numbered among those who have found recovery 
or at least relief from their sufferings. 

With all these comforts, scenes such as must 
occur to all of us are witnessed when the last 
enemy makes his charge, and the old soldier 
meets him face to face. It is sad to say, Death 
is usually the victor. There are instances, how- 
ever, when the conflict is a long one and he may 
be driven back for the time being, for there are 
patients here who have been under the care of 



the surgeons and nurses over twenty years; one 
died lately ninety-seven years of age after twenty- 
one years in the hospital. 

The nurses are dressed in white, the emblem 
of purity, with their heads crowned with small 
white caps, expressive of those they hope to 
receive from the Supreme Commander. These 
will be studded with gems to reward them for 
their many kind acts and words of sympathy, 
as they smoothed and cooled the aching brow of 
many an old veteran, or cheered them in their 
hours of suffering. When the final summons 
comes, they draw the sheet over the face of the 
dead soldier and drop a silent tear as he is 
carried away to the morgue. 

The Adjutant's Office is immediately notified 
of a death, and at once sends word by telegraph 
to the friends of the departed, giving them the 
opportunity of sending for the remains. Should 
they desire to do this the body is properly made 
ready for shipment by express at the family's 
expense, or if not, is laid away here with all the 
honors of war, regardless of social standing 


elsewhere, and with no distinction as to color 
or previous condition of servitude. 


There is a completely equipped drug store, 
with experienced drug clerks and others detailed 
for its management. One of the surgeons of 
the hospital is always in attendance to give 
prescriptions to such as are found in need of 
medical treatment. 


At 8.30 a. m., sick-call is sounded by the 
bugler, and at times as many as fifty may be 
seen waiting at the dispensary located on the 
grounds. Here the vets can tell of their aches 
and pains, and the surgeon in charge, for any 
trivial or imaginary complaint, gives them a 
prescription suited to their case, this prescrip- 
tion being at once filled by the druggist at the 
opposite end of the room. 

The old cry of surgeons in the army may be 
seen on the cards given out: "dose of salts, or 




castor oil." At the first call a yellow card is 
given, giving the name and company to which 
the member belongs and the case or complaint 
endorsed thereon. If, upon examination, the 
member is found to be seriously ill he is at once 
sent to the hospital. In case a member becomes 
ill in his barracks, a surgeon is immediately sent 
for, be it either day or night, who prescribes, 
and medicines are at once sent from the dis- 
pensary in the hospital. 


These buildings are among the latest erected 
on the grounds, and were planned for the pur- 
pose, being built only one story high, with a 
high sloping roof of slate and dormer windows. 
The appliances and appointments are of the 
very latest type for the comfort and convenience 
of those who occupy them. In these buildings, 
which are in close proximity to the hospital, 
those who are recovering their health are placed 
to avoid the scenes enacted daily by such as are 
very ill or dying. When the members tern- 


porarily detained in these wards regain their 
health, they are assigned to the Convalescent 
Company, or to the companies from which they 
were sent when taken sick, or to any other 
company located conveniently near the dining 
room. They, as well as all who come here, are 
given the choice of selecting a company, unless 
the company so chosen be full, or it be inadvisa- 
ble for other reasons which may exist in con- 
sideration of the best interests of the camp, the 
Adjutant always being the judge in such cases. 
A ward of this building is set apart for the 
blind, where a reader, appointed for that pur- 
pose, recites the news and topics of the day, and 
reads from magazines and books of fiction as 
well as from the Book of Books; two hours 
being spent daily by the reader so appointed. 


There is a company in charge of a captain, 
comprising in its membership those too feeble 
to perform the ordinary detail work, light as it 
is, and to which members of other companies 


are transferred when in a similar condition, 
known as the Convalescent Company. 

This company is exempt from outside inspec- 
tion and parade. As the feebleness of its 
members increases they go to the hospital, then 
to the road leading to the cemetery, where they 
receive their final discharge on reaching its con- 
fines, or are sent home to family and friends. 

The old veterans while in the hospital are 
provided with everything that can add to their 
comfort, and among other things is that of 
house coats made of plaid flannel, reaching well 
below the knee. Patients unable to walk may 
be seen in rolling chairs, a sufficient number 
being kept on hand to supply all such needs, 
with attendants (detailed men) to aid them in 
going in and out from the porches. There they 
may be seen on the sunny side of the building 
in large numbers, talking over their war experi- 
ences, or whiling away their time reading the 
daily papers and books drawn from the library 
or supplied from home. 

The writer once paid a visit to one of his old 


comrades, and found a lady on the porch wait- 
ing for her old father to be dressed preparatory 
to taking him home on a visit up in the valley 
of the Blue Juniata, in Pennsylvania. He was 
a Mexican War veteran as well as of the Civil 
War who came here just one year before, 
suffering with chronic rheumatism and other 
ailments, and had been confined to his bed so 
long that he had almost forgotten how to walk. 
It was a pleasant sight to see his comrade 
nurses cheering him up as they assisted him up 
and down the floor and aided him in again 
learning to walk, while waiting for the hospital 
steward to return from headquarters with his 
papers and transportation order, with which 
to go home with his daughter. He is eighty 
years old, and hopes to return here to end his 

In no hospital in our land can there be found 
such kind attention as is given the sick here by 
their comrades who are detailed from the various 
companies, and selected by the surgeon for 
their peculiar adaptation and fitness for the 


work. They are not actuated in their duties 
by what little money they get as remuneration 
for the gentle and faithful service, but by that 
friendship which is known only by comrades 
for each other. 

Flowers fresh from the conservatory in winter 
and the garden in summer are placed in all the 
wards, giving out their fragrance and enjoyment 
to the sick. A large bouquet, which would cost 
several dollars if purchased in our cities north, 
is made from these sources and placed on the 
casket of every veteran buried here in the 
National Cemetery. 

Note. — While I was writing the Appendix 
there were two deaths in our hospital in the 
month of May, 19 10, — men who had been 
patients there for twenty-one and twenty-two 
years respectively, and were helpless invalids. 
Their lives were made comfortable and every 
care and attention shown them during all these 
long years and in their last days before leaving 
for the Camp Ground to be mustered out and 
receive daily pensions (instead of quarterly). 


"God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes," 
etc. (Rev. 21:4.) 

In no hospital in the land or as inmates of 
any charitable institution could they have lived 
so long, and that without the cost of a penny. 
But here they were not inmates (the word is not 
permitted in any document) but members of the 
Home, which belongs to us, donated and en- 
dowed by the greatest government on earth, 
which we suffered to save and which shows its 
gratitude by doing everything to make our last 
days our best days. "Where we take no 
thought for the morrow," etc. (Matt. 6: 34.) 
And we may change the words of Solomon 
somewhat: " That plenty with contentment is 
great gain." 

The Home Hotel. 

There is a hotel open the year round, well 
equipped with pleasant and airy rooms over- 
looking the bay, well furnished, and with every 
convenience including baths. 

The dining-room is on the first floor and 
meals are furnished on the American plan in 
connection with rooms. There is also a cafe, 
where almost anything called for can be sup- 
plied a la carte — and all at very moderate rates. 
The author has had old comrades and their 
wives entertained there, who have often stopped 
at the Chamberlin, and who expressed them- 
selves as being as well satisfied in every respect 
and with avoiding the continual dressing and 
crowds. As a place of rest they said it could 
not be excelled. A French chef and his 
assistants are in charge of the kitchen and can 
serve a wide variety of the most tempting and 

8 (113) 


appetizing dishes. The matron, who is a 
Southern lady, looks after the guests with that 
manner of hospitality which was noted in the 
South for years before the war and makes 
every one feel at home in the hotel, and when 
they leave, it is with pleasant recollections of 
her kind attention to their wants. 





The Old Cemetery was projected and opened 
in 1867 by the United States Government (it 
had previously for a short time been used by 
the Confederates), and the remains of soldiers 
and sailors who had been killed in battle and 
buried on the field, as well as those who had 
died in the hospitals from wounds or sickness, 
are interred therein. 

The grounds contain eleven acres, inclosed 
by a substantial stone wall, and with a com- 
fortable lodge or dwelling for the keeper. The 
remains buried there came mainly from Norfolk, 
Portsmouth, Newport News, and Fortress 
Monroe; including graveyards and battlefields 
within a radius of about twenty-five miles. 
There are 6,629 graves of Federal soldiers in 
this cemetery, in addition to about 300 graves 
of Confederate soldiers who died in our hospitals 


as prisoners of war; the graves of our soldiers 
being marked by modest marble headstones, 
neatly lettered with name, company and regi- 
ment. The graves of the Confederates are also 
marked with stones, similar to those of the 
Union veterans except that they are an inch 

A part of the cemetery has been reserved for 
years for the use of the regular army for the 
interment of deceased soldiers of Fortress 
Monroe, or sailors of our ships. The entire 
space set apart for graves having been used, it 
was officially closed by the Secretary of War in 
1892, at which time another cemetery was 
acquired and opened which is now used for 
members of the Home, so that at the present 
time there are 9,140 graves in both cemeteries, 
with the number rapidly increasing. 

"Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note," 
is the first line of the poem on the burial of Sir 
John Moore, and applies equally well to this 
cemetery since 1892. 

The poem above referred to was the first 





declamation or oratorical effort of the writer 
when a boy at school at the old Academy in 
Auburn, Maine, in 1847. ^ was listened to 
and criticised by the older boys, among whom 
was Hon. William P. Frye, United States 
Senator from Maine, and Judge Gilmore, of 
Colorado, a half-brother of Major O. O. 
Howard, whom he met in Denver in 1894 at a 
banquet of the Chamber of Commerce and who 
sat in the same quartette at the table, and 
recognized the writer after an absence from the 
old school dating back to 1848. 

It is a beautiful place for the tourist to visit, 
as well as the friends of loved ones whose 
remains lie mouldering in the ground, as many of 
them no doubt often sang about old John Brown. 
The graves are well cared for and the grounds 
neatly kept; shade trees of almost endless 
variety abound, from the choicest of the native 
growth to the numerous importations of the 
skillful florist. 

On the road between the two cemeteries there 
stands a very remarkable freak of nature in the 


shape of a paper mulberry tree of which the 
roots project out of the ground so as to form 
a basin which holds about twenty gallons of 
water, enough to take a bath in, and is always 
full after a rain. 

The new cemetery was opened for use in 
1892, and contains eight acres, one fourth of 
which is set apart for the regular army, and 
navy, with their families. The first burial in 
this cemetery from the National Home, D. V. S., 
was May 28, 1892, and the grave was numbered 
6,685. It is enclosed by a neat brick wall, five 
feet high, capped with stone and built with 
pilasters with panels between. The gates on 
the east and west sides are beautifully designed 
and are evidences of the mechanic's skill and 
workmanship. There are a few trees planted 
along the driveways, but it is not intended to 
have such an abundance of shrubbery and 
shade as is to be found in the old cemetery, on 
account of its efFects upon the marble. There 
is a newness about this cemetery which reminds 
one of the cities of the dead on our western 

A Funeral 

Last Salute 


prairies; plenty of room for more, but fast filling 
up. Hardly a day passes but the drum is heard 
with the funeral note; two yesterday, and two 
again to-morrow, of different religious persua- 
sions, one a Catholic and the other a Protestant, 
and up to the present writing, the time of closing 
these "Optic Views," the last grave was 
numbered 8,752. There they await the trumpet 
blast of the Archangel summoning them for 
that grand review before the Great Commander. 
Note. — Since writing the above number, 
8,752, in four years there have been added to 
this number graves up to 9,901, this being the 
last grave at this date, June 1, 1910. 

One by one the vets are going 

To the camp ground bright and {air, 
Answering the last roll call, knowing 
They will muster over there. 

Doing and daring for the right, 

They with pain and suffering languished; 
They have fallen in the fight, 

While their last foe has been vanquished. 



With all the pleasant scenes and beautiful 
surroundings, to greet new members, and to 
render life pleasant to the old ones, there is one 
that brings a feeling of sadness to the heart, and 
that is the almost daily burials; sometimes 
several in one day have been witnessed by the 
writer. Many of us became used to trying 
scenes during the War of the Rebellion, when 
human blood flowed freely, and when the 
agonized cries of the dying were echoed from 
the very earth that seemed waiting to receive all 
that was mortal and close the scene. But we 
become hardened from day to day and look 
upon that phase of the life of a soldier as one of 
the natural features, as in fact it is. The funeral 
cortege goes and comes with apparent relief, and 
when the duty is done, a sigh may be heard and 
felt, with the almost careless remark, "WelLwho 
next ? " or " It will soon be my turn, " etc. 



Immediately after a veteran has succumbed to 
the last battle, notice is sent to one of the Coun- 
cil of Administration, who immediately takes 
charge of his effects and makes an inventory 
in the presence of designated witnesses. An 
appraisal is then made by the full Board of 
Administration and the effects are turned over 
to the quartermaster for safe keeping; all 
money being placed in the hands of the treasurer 
of the Home subject to the order of proper 
relatives. The great question which comes to 
the heart of the writer is, Who next? Will it be 
you or I, comrade ? For some are taken sud- 
denly while in comparatively good health; one 
died in the bathroom the other day; others are 
found dead in their beds, while many drop 
suddenly and expire in the walks. 

A sad case occurred recently during the annual 
inspection by the Inspector-General, lately 
become Governor. An old veteran, a member 
of Home Company C, being in his eighty-eighth 
year and quite feeble, was still anxious to be on 
hand and stood, soldier-like, at attention at the 


foot of his bed as the inspector passed. In a 
few minutes, however, he was found out on the 
porch breathing his last; doctors were imme- 
diately sent for, but in. a few minutes it was all 
over with the old soldier. He had been a mem- 
ber of the Home since April, 1873, and was 
highly respected, not only by the officers and 
members of the Home but by citizens of the 
surrounding country. Many of the old fellows 
seem anxious to put off the last roll call in an 
endeavor to absorb the surplus in the United 
States Treasury by living on and drawing their 
pensions for so many years. 

Many, very many peculiar final scenes might 
be cited, as they occur not only in the hospital, 
but in almost every building of the Home, as 
well as occasionally in the brothels and saloons 
in the adjoining towns, the circle of shame 
which surrounds this noble institution, and 
which disgraces the almost sacred soil of the 
State of Virginia. 

Military honors are paid to every veteran, 
however humble has been his position in life, 

Soldiers' Monument, Cemetery 


without distinction of former rank, for all stand 
on an equal footing here. 

When a death occurs at the hospital at night, 
notice is sent to the Adjutant's Office in the 
morning report, or if during the day, at once. 
The family or friends who have been placed on 
the admission papers are notified immediately 
by telegraph and asked is they wish the remains, 
which are placed in the morgue awaiting reply, 
sent home. If no word if received they are 
prepared for burial, laid out in best uniform, 
placed in a neat casket, with nickel-plated 
handles, and on the day set for the funeral are 
brought to the chapel. Here services are held 
by the Chaplain (or priest, if a Catholic). 

The Company to which the deceased belonged 
is ordered out as escort (or if the dead veteran 
has been long in the hospital, a detail of four 
from each Company), and the line is formed, 
headed by the full band and firing squad. The 
casket is placed on a caisson, covered with Old 
Glory and a beautiful bouquet of flowers from 
the Conservatory (or hothouse if in winter), 


placed upon it, and the line of march is taken 
up for the cemetery, where the service of the 
church to which he belonged is read, followed 
by a salute from the firing squad. 

If the family telegraph for the remains, accom- 
panying the telegram with a remittance for the 
cost of embalming and outside case, they are 
sent by express on the same day. But in any 
case the remains are held for two days after 
death. If the deceased has requested that he be 
clothed in civilian dress, this is done. Should 
the family fail to pay the cost of embalming and 
the outside case, together with the cost of trans- 
portation, the burial is made in the Government 
National Cemetery after sufficient time has 
elapsed to hear from the family by wire. 

If for any reasons the family fails to send for 
the remains before the funeral, after they have 
been held for a sufficient time, the funeral takes 
place, but the body can be disinterred within 
a reasonable time. Funerals are frequently 
stopped by a message after the service has begun 
at the chapel or cemetery. 




Attractive Points for the Tourist. 

There are many places in and near the Home 
where one can find much of interest to study. 

Hampton, the oldest town on the Atlantic 
coast, was first settled by a party of English 
emigrants, who came there in 1668, led by 
Captain John Smith, the saving of whose life by 
Pocahontas is known to every school boy in the 
land. The settlement was then called Pow- 
hatan. Little can be seen of its former build- 
ings, the town having been almost totally de- 
stroyed by fire in 186 1. The only building left 
standing was Saint John's Church, built in 1728, 
from material brought from England. The 
town was attacked by the British in 1775, but 
was successfully defended. And again, in 18 13, 
the English, under Admiral Cockburn and Sir 
Sidney Beckwith, paid it another visit, captured 
the town after an unsuccessful resistance, and 


laid it in ashes; but the most destructive and com- 
plete devastation was in 1861, when it was 
burned by General Magruder, of Confederate 
fame, assisted by many of the residents setting 
fire to their own property in preference to per- 
mitting it to fall into the hands of the Federals. 
On this occasion the destruction was most com- 
plete, not a building left was standing, and only 
the bare and charred walls of two Colonial houses 
and the walls of old St. John's Church remained. 
The town was soon rebuilt after its occupation 
by the Federal troops. During the War of 
18 12, barracks for the army were erected on 
the grounds, and it is said that Bishop Moore 
held religious services within the ruins of the 
old church, which so inspired the parishioners 
that they rebuilt the church in 1827. 

It is indeed a quaint as well as a unique old 
structure, the decorations of the windows being 
indeed beautiful and a real art-study. One of 
them is a memorial window to the rectors of the 
parish from 161 1 to 1776. The first missionary 
efforts were held in Lambert place in 1701 and 


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The Chapel 


one needs only to see this memorial window to 
fully appreciate its wonderful beauty as a master- 
piece of art. 

The Communion service, which was made 
in London, England, in 1618, has been in 
continuous service ever since; it is truly a 
masterly example of the silversmith's art, and no 
doubt will compare favorably with kindred pro- 
ductions in the days of the Apostle Paul. The 
communion membership is largely made up 
from the students of the Hampton Industrial 
School for Indians and Colored Students. The 
old graveyard surrounding the church is an 
intensely interesting place, many quaint inscrip- 
tions on stones and monuments hold the con- 
templative mind in interesting thought and 
study; various traits of character are portrayed 
in words and letters of those whose remains 
have long since mingled with the mother earth. 


General S. C. Armstrong founded this school 
in 1868, as a practical place for the instruction 
and education of the colored youth set free by 


President Lincoln's proclamation in 1863, and 
who were scattered all over the South. The 
fear and dread of the results of this act agitated 
the minds not only of the white people of the 
South, but also of the most intelligent and 
thoughtful people of the North, for the negroes 
only knew one occupation, that of agriculture. 

Later, it was thought wise to take in the 
Indian boys from the tribes of the far West, and 
in 1878 the experiment was tried. There was 
no clashing or irritation on account of color or 
previous condition, either of servitude on the 
part of the colored lad of the South, or of roving 
tendencies and characteristics in his copper- 
colored neighbor. The alumni embrace about 
twenty thousand students who have gone out 
from its halls and shops able to cope with other 
graduates in science, arts, mechanics, etc. It 
was to this school that Booker T. Washington 
came as a poor boy, and to its curriculum he 
largely owes his fitness to be one of the foremost 
leaders of his race. 

Many memorial buildings have been erected 

Old Hulks Driven Ashore 

Wrecks on the Virginia Coa 


on the grounds of the Institute. The library 
was built by Mrs. Huntington and her son, as 
a memorial to the late C. P. Huntington, the 
great railroad king, who did much to develop 
Virginia through his efforts as President of the 
Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, In fact he 
founded the city of Newport News, and made it 
what it is to-day, by building one of the largest 
ship-building plants in our country. Other 
memorial buildings are the Monroe Chapel, 
Virginia Hall and Cleveland Hall, but those 
monuments which will be more lasting than 
brick or stone are the industrial works. These 
shops have been erected almost entirely by 
student labor, and from them have gone out 
many young men well qualified to take their 
places side by side with the brightest young men 
from the leading institutions of our country. 
The various shops and buildings are an inter- 
esting study to the visitor, and are open at all 

A visit to this institution was one of the 
greatest studies in psychology to the writer, 


and opened wide his optics with wonder and 
amazement. He will honestly say that if, at 
the beginning of the war of the Rebellion, he had 
been told it was for the purpose of freeing the 
slaves, it is doubtful if to-day he would be a 
member of the National Soldiers' Home. 


This has been an attractive point for years, 
to those especially whose bank accounts were 
large, and the old Hygeia Hotel was for years 
a restful resort during the winter months for 
many from the North whose vitality had waned 
from excessive rounds of pleasure and dissipa- 
tion in our northern cities. Not only in the 
winter months, but all through the year the 
register of the Chamberlin, one of the finest 
hotels in the country, is well filled. 

Much could be said of points near by: York- 
town, Norfolk, Williamsburg, Jamestown, and 
last but not least, Newport News. It may 
truthfully be said that the latter is one of the 
most interesting cities that has been built up in 

Wreckage on the Shore 

Stranded on the Beach 


the South since the Civil War. Thousands of 
skilled mechanics from every State of the Union 
have been attracted to this place, which has 
grown from a sand marsh as it was when Colonel 
Collis P. Huntington first saw the advantages 
of its spacious harbor of deep water, to a city of 
30,000 inhabitants, and is still rapidly increasing 
with evidences on every hand of more stability 
than many of our western cities beyond the 
Mississippi River or west of the Rocky Moun- 
tains; its streets are broad, well paved, and it 
is an up-to-date place in every respect. 

Many fine residences have been erected, which 
will compare favorably with any in the country, 
and in a ride over the two lines the writer only 
saw "To Let" on two houses, although the sign 
"Furnished Rooms" abounds, showing that the 
owners, who are employed in the ship-yard and 
railroad shops, like comfortable homes and are 
always ready to spare a room to those who come 
here for employment, and at the same time give 
the thrifty housewife an opportunity to earn a 
little pin-money. 


The boating and fishing as well as crabbing 
and the gathering of oysters and clams are an 
attraction and all along the shore in this vicinity 
are large establishments from which canned 
oysters and crabs are shipped. This industry 
is carried on most successfully, the output being 
equal in quality to any in the country. 

There is much to see here at the Soldiers' 
Home, and one who goes about with his optics 
open wide to take in the full scope of the land- 
scape and the sea view, will find it much like a 
kaleidoscope, ever changing. Only to-day a 
scene that would attract thousands to the city 
parks was enjoyed by the writer and many 
others. The ships of our navy that lie in full 
view from the breakwater require room for 
their crews for drilling on shore. As the drill 
ground is used daily by the Fort soldiers it is 
unavailable and the commanders of the warships 
bring their crews ashore and march them up to 
the Home grounds, coming through the streets 
of Phoebus, for a distance of about two miles. 
This limbers up the young tars and marines, 


and the open ground in front of the breakwater, 
containing about ten acres, gives full oppor- 
tunity for their various drills. 

About fifteen hundred, led by their officers, 
assembled here recently and went through their 
tactics in fine style, and after formation in line 
the officers saluted the Admiral in command of 
the fleet and turned the command over to him, 
who put them through at a lively pace. 

Admiral Dewey once paid us a visit and the 
Governor ordered out the command for a 
review. The Admiral clapped his hands, and 
exclaimed that it was the greatest sight he ever 



The writer looks back with pleasure over his 
twenty months' sojourn in the Home as a member. 
The physical improvement it has made in him 
and the enjoyment derived from meeting with 
old comrades, many of whom he had not seen 
since the close of the Rebellion in 1865, will not 
soon be forgotten. Those who like himself 
have been forced to come here through infirmi- 
ties of old age, the breaking of home ties, or 
inability to provide for themselves, are largely 
of the better class; for those who came here in the 
years just after the war, who had broken down 
from disease contracted in the service, or habits 
formed during those days of hardship and suffer- 
ing, are rapidly passing over the ramparts that 
separate Time from Eternity, as is shown by the 
records of the Home, over three hundred having 
died during the past eighteen months. Although 


seven hundred have been admitted as new mem- 
bers in addition to a large number of readmis- 
sions from those who had taken their discharges 
thinking that they could support themselves, and 
others transferred from other Homes, deaths, 
discharges and transfers to other Homes, with 
some few who are dishonorably discharged, 
have kept the membership about the same as at 
the time of the author's first coming here in 
August, 1904 — about 3,500 — which is the full 
capacity of this branch. Many men become 
discontented or think that a climatic change 
will be beneficial, while others become dis- 
satisfied from the slight restraint and rules 
which are required in all the Homes, as pre- 
scribed by the Board of Managers, regarding 
cleanliness, hours for rising and retiring, etc. 
But for one of sober, steady habits and due 
regard for tidiness and cleanliness, the restraint 
is hardly perceptible, for every privilege is 
accorded by the Governor to go and come from 
7 a. m. to 8.30 p. m. and special passes when 
asked for as may be required. Passes are 


cheerfully accorded to those who wish to be out 
as late as twelve, midnight, to attend lodges, 
church or other purposes. Were it not for the 
rules as made by the board, the better class of 
sober, respectable men could not live here, and 
every encouragement is given by the Governor 
to those whose habits have weakened their will 
powers, to regain them again. The sickness, 
infirmities and old age of the veterans who are 
so rapidly finishing their last march, have a 
great deal to do with the dispositions of us all. 
That women get cranky when they grow old 
(if they ever do) is an old saying, but it is the 
experience of the writer that the sterner sex can 
outcrank them, himself included. If, as in the 
old Scotch saying, we could "see ourselves as 
others see us" we would have to confess that 
perfection has not been reached by any of us, 
and we may try, as many do, to shake off the 
idea that we are growing old, yet not only the 
looking glass but our enfeebled steps clearly 
contradict that impression. Many come here, 
get rested up and recuperate as a result of the 


pure air, surroundings and good healthful diet, 
and still having ambition to help themselves, 
which is characteristic of an American, go out 
on furlough seeking employment, while others 
more confident of their abilities will take an 
honorable discharge only to be found back 
again after a few months. They find that those 
they knew in former years have died, or their old 
haunts are peopled by a younger set of men who 
jostle them aside or tell them they are back 
numbers and should look into the cemeteries to 
find their friends of former days. God bless 
our Nation and those who after the war saw the 
need of such Homes as have been so lavishly 
provided for us, and supplied every comfort to 
make our last days happy and peaceful. 

Vast improvements have lately been made 
both to the grounds and buildings, such as grano- 
lithic side-walks, miles of new and larger steam 
and hot water pipes; improved and up-to-date 
plumbing; a large extension of the sea-wall 
made of concrete, which will add some eight 
acres of ground on the bay front, and a pile and 


planking bulkhead on Jones' Creek in the rear 
of the grounds, which will give some acres of 
additional land for coal storage and other pur- 
poses. A new propagating house has been 
built, which will enable our chief florist to pro- 
vide plants, etc., liberally, for the adornment of 
the grounds. 


It has been found necessary that a cold 
storage be provided for the kitchen of the gen- 
eral mess hall, in which to keep sweet and pre- 
serve the meats after being cooked, which has to 
be done several hours before the time to be used 
for the meals. A large brick barrack which is 
planned for the Convalescent Company, whose 
membership is increasing rapidly (in fact in a 
few years the entire Home will be made up of 
convalescents or those too feeble to well look 
after themselves), will have its own kitchen and 
mess hall for the cripples and enfeebled men, 
thereby avoiding exposure in cold or rainy 





The new cemetery, which was opened for 
interments in 1892, is nearly full and the Board 
is about to add many acres thereto from ground 
adjoining, which now belongs to the Industrial 
School at Hampton. 

A telephone system is being planned to be 
placed in every building, with central station at 
the guard house. By this the Governor can 
reach any office of the companies or departments 
day or night, and commanders of companies can 
also call up the hospital at any time. 


The writer desires to say to the old vets that 
if death or other causes have compelled them 
to break up their homes, and they do not care to 
be dependent on their children or others, let 
them pack up and make application for admis- 
sion to the Home here, where they will receive 
a warm and cordial welcome from the Governor, 
regardless of what their life has been in the past. 

To those enfeebled in health who want to 
prolong their lives, there is no better sanitarium 


to be found in the United States (except perhaps 
for those who may be suffering from bronchial 
or lung troubles) than right here. The climate 
is perfect all the year round. Winters are mild 
(only two small snow storms this year) and in 
the summer the cool breezes blow from the 
ocean. A blanket always comes in handy during 
the summer months and in winter a proper tem- 
perature is maintained by our steam heating sys- 
tem. It is easy of access by sail or steamboat 
from all points of the country, and in addition 
there are many other attractions. 

The bay, with its warships and other vessels, 
provides a constantly changing panorama. 

A new conservatory is projected with enlarged 
facilities for caring for plants and ferns, many 
of the latter having extended their branches 
through the top of the dome in the old building, 
and the many beautiful flowers which are grown 
to provide a bouquet for the casket of every old 
vet when he leaves the Chapel on his way to the 
cemetery, his last camping ground. 


When the long roll has sounded 

My last long alarm, 
When my spirit and body shall part, 

When my name has been called 
And at rest well-earned, 

With my hands folded over my heart, 
When no more shall the reveille 

Wake with the day, 
And call me from labor to rest, 

Then bury me as a true soldier should be, 
With my Grand Army badge on my breast. 

Let me sleep my last sleep 

With my beautiful star, 
With its banner and eagle and all 

Close to my still breast, 
Which has ever been true 

To the Flag at my loved country's call. 
In my life 'twas the emblem of loyalty, 

Truth and charity, sweetest and best, 
Then bury me when my last summons shall come, 

With my Grand Army badge on my breast. 

Tis the badge that no traitor's breast 

Ever shall wear, 
'Tis an emblem of loyalty true, 
Tis a broad shield of brotherhood, 

Spotless and fair, 
The most beautiful red, white and blue; 

'Tis an emblem no monarch can ever bestow, 
And none but the brave e'er possessed, 

And so I desire to sleep my last sleep 
With my Grand Army badge on my breast. 



And in that grandest muster 
On that brighter shore, 

When we pass our great final review, 
It will shine on to show 

That my loyal heart beats 
To my country and Flag ever true. 

'Twill be a prized emblem 
To show in that land, 

The beautiful land of the blest; 
Then bury me where my last tattoo shall sound, 

With my Grand Army badge on my breast. 
— -Author Unknown. 

"MEMORIAL DAY," MAY 30, 1910. 

Thou Great Commander who hast led 
Vets and comrades through this life, 

Safely spared them midst showers of lead, 
Through the thickest of the strife, 

With waving colors they trusted thee then, 

Jesus Saviour, now lead them. 

When they stood where cannon roared, 
Where their comrades fell thick and fast, 

Then it was thee whom they implored 
To bring them safely through at last, 

To meet with those who fought and fell 

Fighting for country they loved so well. 

One by one they are going over 

The great divide twixt here and there, 

Suffering with pain and anguish, 

To the camp grounds bright and fair, 

Doing, daring for the right, 

They have fallen in the fight. 

Woodfin Memorial 
Captain P. T. Woodfin, Governor, Southern Branch, from 
March 31, 1874, until his death, August 24, 1901. 

Memorial Day, May .^o, 1910. 


When at last they reach the shore, 

Hear their Leader call the roll, 
Never, never to part any more, 

Know their names are on his scroll, 
Hear thee say, thou didst fight well, 
And earned a mansion in which to dwell. 

In that bright realm above, 

There will meet the Blue and Grey, 
Clasping hands in mutual love, 

In one long eternal day, 
Though they differed here below, 
There their greetings they bestow. 

— The Author. 



The author prepared the MS. with the intention of 
having it printed and published in time for the Jamestown 
Exposition, but owing to circumstances which arose, it was 
abandoned for the time being. Since then many and 
extensive improvements have been made both to the grounds 
and buildings, involving an expenditure of over eight hundred 
thousand dollars, appropriated through the generosity and 
liberality of Congress. Such work has been done as filling- 
in and grading eight acres behind the concrete sea wall built 
in 1905, by pumping in sand from the bay; also in building 
the revetment on Jones' Creek from the wharf to the 
bridge at Hampton Gate, adding an additional two acres, 
so that there are now 85.36 acres in all in the grounds. 

The following new buildings have been erected, viz: 

A new power house fronting on Jones' Creek, with 
modern machinery for handling coal by lifting and feeding 
it to the furnaces automatically. 

The boilers furnish steam and hot water to every building 
in the Home, both barracks and shops, also heating all 
buildings by steam. Two large electric generators of 225 
K. W. are installed in the new building which furnish not 
only all light but power to the shops of various kinds and 
to the bakery and laundry. 

The new power house is erected on partly new made 
ground and ooze on the edge of Jones' Creek and great 
difficulty was met with in getting a suitable foundation. 
Piles were driven close together to a depth of sixty feet to 
hard clay, then sawed off level and capped with concrete, 
grilled with I beams and reinforced before a satisfactory 
foundation could be obtained and the structure erected. 

The chimney is 186 feet in height and not a crack in either 
the building or chimney has been discovered. Coal is 



delivered to bunkers overhead by an electric conveyor, and 
is supplied to the boilers by gravity through a scale giving 
the correct weight of the amount consumed, and ashes are 
removed by the same conveyor used in raising the coal. 
The boilers are larger than those used in the old power 
house, but fewer in number, only six being required which 
are of 250 H. P., and supply steam for the general uses of all 
buildings on the Home grounds, heating of the buildings 
and cooking in the two mess halls and the hospital mess, 
and for the operation of the several pumping stations on the 
grounds. Where the electric current was formerly pur- 
chased from the Newport News Electric Light Company, it 
is now supplied by our own plant for all the machinery in 
the ice plant, machine shops, and other places where power 
is required, such as elevators, etc. 

Two wings to the quartermaster's building have been 
built, adding much to its appearance as well as utility. The 
west wing is used by the quartermaster for his office, and all 
the departments pertaining thereto are in charge of well 
trained and efficient clerks. The tailor shop and shoe shop 
are in this new wing, with the scouring shop for clothing 
turned in by members when leaving, which is all thoroughly 
renovated, repaired and reissued again. 

A new dry-cleaning plant is being installed and is 
nearly completed, by which, with the use of gasoline, the 
color and texture of clothing are maintained. 

There has also been provided in the quartermaster's 
building, a cold storage for woolen clothing and blankets, 
kept at such a low temperature that no moths or other 
insects could live in it to attack the cloth. 

The east wing is used by the Commissary Department, in 
which are the offices of commissary and clerks as well as the 
warehouse containing the stores and miscellaneous supplies 
issued daily, and in a wing connected with it is the cold 
storage for meats, eggs and butter in separate compartments. 
The cellar is used for storing potatoes and other supplies. 

A coffee-roasting and grinding room with all new and up- 



to-date machinery is installed in the building. The coffee 
is bought in its green state without any chance for adultera- 
tion or manipulation. " Purity and Freshness" is the motto 
of the commissary department in all supplies used here in 
catering to the wants of the inner man. 

Three new barracks for convalescents and invalids (we 
will all be invalids in a few years), with covered passage- 
ways to the dining-room, have been erected for convenience 
and comfort in cold and stormy weather. 

A dining hall has been built to supply the need as stated 
above, with every modern appliance in the kitchen for cook- 
ing and washing dishes, of the most hygienic order. 

A new chapel has replaced the old one, with two wings for 
both Protestant and Catholic uses, with a main entrance 
and vestibule which answers for both denominations, as 
well as a side entrance for each. The building stands on a 
triangular plot of ground near Hampton Gate on two main 
avenues. It would be difficult to describe the interior 
except as to the opalescent glass in all the windows; those 
in the gables being exceptionally beautiful, illustrating events 
in the Bible, and must be seen to appreciate their artistic 
effect. The pictures herewith can only give the outline in 
black and white. 

A front addition to the hospital and a new wing thereto, 
the need for which has been felt for a long time, but more so 
in late years, owing to the large increase of infirmities as 
the members approach the three score years and ten. The 
peradventure period, as set forth in the Bible, finds almost 
all, including many of the more active veterans, changing 
from the barracks of the more active members to those of 
the convalescents and invalids. 

In making the changes and alterations to the hospital a 
tuberculosis ward has been provided by utilizing a long 
passage-way formerly used as quarters for the men nurses. 
It is in one story, the north side wall with windows remain- 
ing, but the south side walls have been entirely removed and 
replaced with wire screening, giving plenty of air to patients 


just as if they were out of doors getting the full rays of the 
sun, summer and winter. As a protection in stormy weather 
curtains are arranged to pull down and thereby protect the 

Its introduction has proved a success, and many of the 
patients, mostly Spanish War veterans, have been helped. 
Experts who have visited it say it will compare favorably 
with other camps established for tuberculosis patients. 
The front extension with portico supported by columns, 
adds largely to the architectural effect of the front and 
greatly enhances its beauty. 

A new conservatory has been erected which will hold 
ferns and other tropical plants to the height of thirty feet 
or more. 

A new ice plant with new and modern machinery increas- 
ing the supply to twenty tons per day, which is used in 
supplying all buildings with ice, also for the butter rooms 
and refrigerators in the dining-halls, and last but not least 
the refrigerator in the morgue where those who die are 
placed until their friends may be heard from, as has been set 
forth in an earlier portion of this work. 

A large building in which are concentrated the various 
trades, carpenter, paint, tin and machine shops, is supplied 
by the electric power plant with current where required. 
Electric power is also furnished to the laundry and bakery 
in which new and up-to-date machinery and appliances have 
been introduced. 

Several of the wood residence buildings occupied by 
offices, nurses, etc., have been removed to more desirable 

All the old barracks have been thoroughly overhauled, 
renovated and painted, with new and modern plumbing to 
replace the old. 

An enlarged water system for supplying the new buildings 
and for fire purposes has been installed, comprising 
twenty-two fire hydrants and five thousand feet of pipe has 
been laid for fire protection. 


The fire engine and apparatus have been placed in the 
brick building formerly used as a machine shop and a new 
hose cart with five hundred and fifty feet of hose has 
been located in the old pumping station near the main gate. 

Improved methods have been adopted for exterminating 
vermin or preventing their appearance. It is a credit to the 
watchfulness of company commanders that they seldom 
appear. When they do, those occupying the beds are 
punished by having their cards taken away and keeping 
them within the gates for from thirty to ninety days. 

Disinfectants are liberally used in the toilet rooms of 
barracks and hospital, and every other means that can be 
thought of to add to the comfort and health of the members 
who are fast growing old, — their average in the last report 
being 69.18 years and would be somewhat older were it not 
for about ninety Spanish War veterans who are here as a 
result of disease and exposure in the Philippines. They are 
of about the average age that the veterans of '6l-'65 were 
when the Home was first opened in 1873, thus reducing the 
general average. 

The kitchen of the main dining hall was entirely destroyed 
by fire in 1907, the walls only remained standing. This has 
been rebuilt and refitted with every appliance in culinary 
implements that modern invention has devised. 

Seven thousand square yards of cement walks have been 
laid during the past three years and the driveways greatly 
improved by laying fine ground stone over the oyster shells — 
the old way of road-making. The shells took a long time 
to get smooth owing to the little travel by vehicles through 
the grounds. The wind made them very dusty, sending 
the lime dust into the buildings and causing much dis- 

Three old barracks, the oldest here, just going to decay, 
are to be torn down, and on a more suitable location others 
are to be erected similar to that of Company C, as seen in 
the illustration. 

The most marked change in the running of the Home is 


to take place on July 1st, before this book comes from the 
press, that is in doing away with the old veterans as waiters 
in the two dining rooms — the greatest innovation since the 
Home was started. Age is fast telling on the old boys, and 
it will be only a few short years until all the labor will have 
to be performed by civilians of a younger age of both sexes. 

The Social hall is about to be vacated and will be arranged 
as a dormitory for the female waiters. Located where it is, 
in a secluded part of the ground, it will be a suitable and quiet 
place for them, and well adapted for such a purpose. The 
new dining hall for invalids has removed the congested 
condition and lack of seating capacity at meals in the old 
dining hall, and other changes have been made that add to 
the comfort of the veterans and obviate the crowding which 
has been the case heretofore. The hiring of females for 
waiters is a venture, but it is believed that it will work in a 
satisfactory manner, causing a more careful regard for table 
manners on the part of some who are fortunately in the 

A handsome building for the guard at the Phoebus 
Gate is contemplated. All this care for our comfort is 
being done for us as if we were going to live forever, but 
the increased number of deaths from year to year, as 
shown by the annual reports of the Board, tell the sad story 
that 305 died in 1905, 321 in 1906, 326 in 1 907, 307 in 
1908 and 308 in 1909. 

"One by one we are passing over 

The great divide between here and there, 

Regardless of the care given us, 

Old age will conquer everywhere." 

These figures, however, include all deaths outside of the 
Home, in other words, all on our rolls, as a considerable 
number die while absent. 

It would appear that the only remaining work to be done, 
is to consider the criticism made by the writer in the last 
chapter, viz., that of an intercommunicating telephone sys- 


tern, which is already in use in many of the branches of 
National Soldiers' Homes, that has been completed and 
is now in full operation. It is a great convenience in our 
daily work and also for use in our fire system. One great and 
important advantage of the telephone system is in securing 
quick attendance of the physicians in the quarters at night 
when the members are taken suddenly ill and in many 
instances in the past have died before their arrival. 

New water pipes have been laid at a cost of nearly $5,000, 
including a line of pipe for fire protection. Many of the 
large cities are adopting the same plan. It was found that 
in using the service pipes for fire use that the pressure was so 
great as to destroy some of the fixtures. Our fire pump had 
only a limited area of the grounds, but now it will be prac- 
ticable to reach all of the buildings in the event of fire, and 
prevent much loss. 

Other improvements are projected and only await appro- 
priations by Congress to carry them into effect. Among 
these is a concrete wall abutting on Jones' Creek from the 
wharf to Hampton Bridge and when finished and the Creek 
dredged to a sufficient depth, will enable coal barges to 
come up to the new power house to be unloaded, thereby 
saving great expense in handling. The plans for a single 
arch concrete bridge at the Phoebus entrance are already 
drawn and only await funds to construct it, also a new 
guard-house at that point. All these improvements will 
add to the beauty of the place, which now cannot be excelled 
at any of the National Homes. Plans are also drawn for 
three more barracks buildings similar in style of architecture 
to those of Companies D, C and S, and many other pro- 
posed improvements only await appropriations by Congress, 
and when all are completed, the Southern branch will be 
one of the most complete of all for comfort, beauty and 
scenic effect. 

A tunnel system has been constructed in the central por- 
tion of the reservation in which many steam pipes are 
installed. The tunnel is of reinforced concrete construction, 


waterproofed by a patented preparation, and is six feet in 
height by six feet wide. The steam pipes range in size from 
three to fourteen inches, and convey both high and low 
pressure. The low pressure heating system is of the 
vacuum type. 

The quarters of the companies have been refurnished 
with new beds, six inches wider than the old ones, and of the 
same size as those in the hospital, with new mattresses, also 
arm chairs and new lockers, which might be styled chiffo- 
niers, having mirrors on the top, and a drop lid forming a 
writing desk. New and improved porcelain plumbing has 
been installed in the lavatories, wash rooms and bath-rooms 
in all the buildings, adding great comfort to the old vets, 
as well as hygienic improvement. Many other changes 
and additions have been made. Perhaps the most notable 
change is in the bakery, which is now completely equipped 
with new ovens and the necessary machinery and is in every 
way most satisfactory. The mess hall kitchen is greatly im- 
proved and copper tanks are now used to handle the refuse. 

The conservatory and hothouse (the old ones) have been 
torn down and larger ones erected, with all modern appli- 
ances for heating and propagating the plants, and caring 
for them in the conservatory. The flowers are made up into 
bouquets and placed on the caskets of the dead. The new 
greenhouse is a very handsome structure and many favor- 
able comments are made on it. 

Over eight hundred thousand dollars have been spent in 
the construction and remodeling of buildings and increasing 
the acreage by sea wall and revetment. 

All this has been done under the direction of Governor 
T. T. Knox, during the last four years, to whom great credit 
is due for his foresight in anticipating the demand for these 
large additions in order to bring the Southern branch up to 
the high standard it holds among the National Homes. He 
has given the best part of his life to this purpose and object. 

Great credit is also due to Governor Knox for his work 
in planning all these extensive improvements and in locating 


the new buildings where they would add to the artistic effect 
of the grounds, and his watchful eye is ever alert to see 
where greater comfort, convenience and cleanliness may be 
added for more efficiency in the management of so large a 
number who are rapidly reaching their second childhood. 
His suggestions are readily and promptly endorsed by the 
local manager, Ex-Governor Franklin Murphy of New 
Jersey, who gives much of his time to looking after the 
interests of the Home, and as quickly approved by the joint 
board of managers. His selection to fill the position of Presi- 
dent of the Board, as well as local manager, formerly occu- 
pied by the late Major-General and United States Senator 
W. J. Sewell, was a wise one on the part of President 

Notable improvements have been made by removing old 
buildings, some of which have been torn down and others 
moved on rollers to more suitable locations, as has been done 
in the case of the Adjutant's and Chief Engineer's residences, 
and the nurses' quarters. The old Canteen has been 
entirely wiped out and the ground seeded in grass. The 
success of Governor Knox in this work is the result of his 
education at West Point and practical experience for several 
years as Inspector for the Board of Managers, which afforded 
him an opportunity to study the wants of the various Homes 
and the comfort of the members. His suggestions have been 
endorsed by the local manager and the board of managers, 
and have been carried out by means of generous appropri- 
ations by Congress. 

Much more could be said of the beauties of the place, its 
grounds and well kept lawns, together with the view of the 
bay and Hampton Roads where Captain Worden with the 
Monitor, the pioneer ship of our present navy, and pattern 
for all other nations to copy from, proved that twelve inches 
of iron in the turrets (not hardened steel as now used) with 
the man behind the gun, was more than a match for a 
wooden hulk covered with old railroad rails as was the 
Merrimac. Our great warships gather here for review, and 


from this point the fleet started last October on its practice 
voyage around the world. 

A great change has come over the Home. The beer hall 
or Canteen is closed! Congress did the work, and while the 
writer is inclined to be conservative in his views in Chapter 
XVII, yet experience has proved since its close that he was 
correct in his opinion. The number of arrests from drunk- 
enness and causes incident thereto were greatly increased 
after the Canteen was closed in comparison with the figures 
of the previous year when it was open. 

Since the new Chaplain came in 1906, there has been a 
marked increase in attendance at the Chapel on Sunday 
and week-night meetings and an increased amount of money 
sent out from the post office to friends at home after pension 
day, and in addition to all this, a better feeling of content- 
ment on the part of the old boys. The only thing that is 
missed is the revenue and profits from the sale of beer, 
which were used mainly to meet the expenses for amusement 
at the theatre and supply books for the library which, no 
doubt, will be made up by our generous Government in the 
appropriations for the years to come, but if a vote was taken, 
a large majority would say "keep the beer hall closed!" 

An invitation is extended to one and all to come and see 
for themselves that the "optic views and impressions" as 
contained within these pages are no exaggeration; every 
attention will be shown you by the guides, and your visit 
made a pleasant one. 

In conclusion, the author wishes to express his deep 
obligations to the artists, Colonel William T. Bennett, 
deceased, who was the first to scale the walls of Pekin, and 
William J. Kelley, both members of the Home, and Miss 
Gray, a former trained nurse in the hospital, who took 
the pictures contained in this work, and generously, at their 
own expense and time, volunteered to aid in making the 
views true to nature. 

National Soldiers' Home, South Branch, 
July, 1910.